Although it's still early, the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is looking like it could be one of the most important in Ottawa Senators history. On top of three first-round selections (the most the Senators have ever had), some of Ottawa's late-round picks look like they have a good deal of potential, perhaps none more than Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Pageau, an Ottawa native who'd played his entire major-junior career with the Gatineau Olympiques before being dealt to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in January, had an absolute monster of a season in 2010-11 that bumped him onto a lot of scouting reports--and, eventually, into the Senators organization.
Pageau's rookie season in the QMJHL was modest by that league's scoring standards, and he finished with 16G and 15A in 62GP as one of the youngest and smallest players on the squad. The next year, as was said above, his numbers just exploded: He had 79P (32G and 47A) in 67GP, and he got even better in the playoffs with 29P (13G, 16A) in 24GP, leading his team to the QMJHL finals against the Saint John Sea Dogs (during which Pageau's magic ran out and his team
was swept correction: Gatineau lost in six games in the finals. -PR). His playoff numbers were third in the league last year.
This year, his numbers remain strong, with more goals coming: 31G and 28A (59P) in just 39 games played (he's missed time due to injury this season). Although being dealt from his hometown was likely tough, Chicoutimi is in a better position than Gatineau heading towards the post-season, so it bodes well for Pageau.
Pageau will almost certainly return to the QMJHL for another season next year, so his 'future' won't start until 2013-14, at which point he'll try to make his way into the pro ranks. Due to his size--just 5'9" and 164 lbs, for now--it's tough to project him to the NHL. Martin St. Louis is smaller than Pageau, but he's one in a million; it seems more likely that Pageau would become a Ryan Shannon-esque player than a St. Louis-calibre one--although comparisons to Claude Giroux and Simon Gagne must be pretty flattering. He's obviously got good offensive instincts, so if he sticks in the NHL, it will likely be in a top-six-forward, scoring role.
Pageau is just 19 years old right now, though, so there's still a a couple of years to go before NHL can really be on the radar. Over the next two and a half seasons, we'll get a much better idea of what Pageau might be capable of.