The New York Islanders doubled down — no, tripled, er sextupled down on their NHL trade deadline acquisition by agreeing to a six-year contract extension with Jean-Gabriel Pageau worth a reported $30 million, or $5 million per season.
That is believed to be at least a year longer than the rebuilding Senators were willing to go with their beloved homegrown native. But the Islanders are in contend-now mode, as evidenced by the trade for Pageau and other activity (adding Andy Greene, attempting to add Zach Parise?!) this month.
Full NTC for first two seasons for Pageau with NYI. Partial NTC beyond that.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 24, 2020
This will be seen by some as an overpay for the 27-year-old who is having a career year — though for perspective, it’s $250,000 less per season than the deal Frans Nielsen took to walk away four seasons ago.
But Pageau also brings so many traits the Islanders were looking for to complete their approach to a lineup: A dependable, talented, two-way center who will make them strong at center all the way through the lineup whenever Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Pageau and Casey Cizikas are healthy.
Cizikas, who is signed through next season, is currently on IR thanks to a laceration injury, and his absence combined with Derrick Brassard’s less-than-ideal fit as third-line center has helped fuel the Islanders recent struggles. Having a predictable set of dependable centers will be a dream for the defined-role-loving Barry Trotz.
So the Islanders have given up some futures this month — including their first two picks in this summer’s draft for Pagaeu — but it has long been clear they need to round up the horses to compete now. As discussed earlier when reports of an impending agreement came out, their other contracts all point to it. It will make it tighter to retain some of their key players who are approaching RFA, but this is the task for a (soon-to-be) cap-spending team that wishes to compete.
And of course, every other serious team in the Metropolitan Division is also going for it, as evidenced by the flurry of trades made by Islanders rivals today. It’s going to make for an entertaining playoff chase followed by quite the postseason. Here’s hoping the Islanders are a big part of it...
Pageau’s First Game: Tuesday vs. the Rangers, or...?
Unfortunately, although Pageau was headed to Long Island on Monday afternoon, there’s no guarantee he would be available for Tuesday’s game at the Coliseum vs. the Rangers.
That’s because as a Canadian citizen who has long been employed by a Canadian team, there is work visa paperwork to clear before he can be approved. But hey, who is the U.S. government and immigration authority to say no to Lou Lamoriello?
Despite the rivalry, there were still good tickets available for good prices via StubHub when this trade went down.
Pageau, Former Teammates React
For Pageau, who was in negotiations to extend in Ottawa, this is the culmination of a long, emotional process. But he’s ready to go — visa issues pending — for the Isles.
Pageau on the process: "It was harder than I wold have expected, mentally, to be thinking about so many things that could’ve happened to me. It was stressful. I'm glad it’s over now and I can focus on my goal, which is winning. Last night was really hard."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 24, 2020
Pageau is also a beloved teammate:
Bobby Ryan on Pageau: "He's worn every hat here, right? He's been your fourth-line guy when he first started to play and now is getting first-line minutes this year and just done everything you've ever asked of him." (h/t @NHLdotcom colleague Craig Merz) #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) February 24, 2020
“The Islanders are getting a great guy off the ice and an even better player on the ice.”@Senators' Thomas Chabot, Craig Anderson, and D.J. Smith spoke about the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. #SNTrade pic.twitter.com/w1X0j1h7X0— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 24, 2020
Pageau: "I can’t guarantee I’m going to score goals or anything, but there’s one thing, I’m going to bring 110 percent every day to try to do my best. That’s all I can control." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) February 24, 2020
“Building a new arena makes me believe that the owners of the Islanders want to win. This is what you want, as a player. With the Islanders, everyone seems to be pushing in the same direction. I am proud to be part of this adventure. ” - Pageau https://t.co/Ouvbphnzj5— Culture of Losing (Out On Free Agents) (@cultureoflosing) February 24, 2020
Yeah, probably not long before Pageau becomes a fan favorite on the Island.