Of the Senators five unrestricted free agents, there are a couple of certainties. The team is going to try their hardest to lock down Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad, but are also going to have tough negotiations with Mike Hoffman as they figure out whether he's a long-term piece or a flash in the pan. Another certainty is their love for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and for good reason. The Gatineau native is one of the team's young local players and brings a consistent effort every night. He's an excellent defensive player, is strong in the neutral zone, and excels by using his speed on the penalty kill.
Is that a player you should consider locking up to a long-term deal, though? By my estimate (you never know with contracts), a five-year deal for Pageau would take him to unrestricted free agency, which is what the Sens would like to avoid. Thus, they could go REALLY long and buy 1-2 UFA years with a six or seven year deal, or could do anything from 1-4 years and keep Pageau as an RFA.
On the surface, there may be some reason to worry as Pageau's point-per-game rate has dropped from 1.00 (175 games, QMJHL) to 0.66 (142 games, AHL) and then to 0.29 in 87 NHL games. Looking just a little bit deeper though, you can see that his 0.38 PPG this year helps make up for his poor year last year (where Pageau was rushed) and that his shot rate, hovering around 2 per game, is respectable and way better than most of the other depth players on the Senators.
I generally worry a lot when giving long term deals to depth players as they can always be found in free agency. Looking at Pageau's closest comparable (in terms of role), Zack Smith, doesn't help his case. Smith had similar AHL production as Pageau (0.60 PPG in 171 games) and his NHL numbers are closer to Pageau's career rate (0.24 in 319 games). Two things separate Smith from Pageau in terms of production though, and that's his historical numbers (0.50 PPG in the WHL; went undrafted in his first year) and age (he was three years older than Pageau when the Senators signed him to a 4 year deal). When you look at shot rate, possession, and even-strength production, the two separate themselves further.
Taken straight from the wonderful War On Ice, we can see that Pageau has a better goal, assist, and point rate at even-strength. Importantly, he's a plus in terms of penalty differential and helps the team in that regard, whereas Smith is harmful. Pageau generates more offense at even strength (31.31 SF60 vs. 29.46) AND is better at suppressing shots (28.34 SA60 vs. 30.45). Pageau may be what the team *thought* Smith was when they mistakingly decided to lock him up.
Is all of this enough for Pageau to be locked up to a long-term deal, though? Or is the team better off waiting to see what Pageau can do with a full time NHL season next year?
- Offseason coverage is in full swing here in Sens land. First, some news that Andrew Hammond will be joining his pals Karlsson and Stone in Las Vegas as a Masterton Trophy nominee. [Silver Seven, SensChirp, Ottawa Citizen]
- Speaking of the 'Burglar, the Senators have entered into contract negotiations with him. He's probably looking for a one-way deal. [6th Sens]
- It's interesting that the Sens have started talks with Hammond without seeing where they stand with FA goaltender Matt O'Connor. A trade may be the solution. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Want a profile on the much-talked about free agent? Jack has a column on BU's O'Connor [SenShot]
- Speaking of contract negotiations, Chirp has a post on the Sens RFAs, and who's likely to get long-term vs. short-term deals. [SensChirp]
- One Senator is still in action, and that's Patrick Wiercioch with Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships. [SenShot]
- In case some of you are still bitter about how the Habs series ended, Capital Gains has another one of his great photoshop tutorials on how to cost the Sens a game. [Bonk's Mullet]
- Ross has his personal Top 10 moments in the 2014-15 Ottawa Senators season. Are there that you have that aren't included? [Silver Seven]
- For some more nostalgia, Eldrinson has a Twitter Roundup from last week. [SenShot]
- Nichols has transcripts of Bryan Murray's exit interview with the media [I], and then his one-on-one meeting with Ian Mendes [II]. [6th Sens I, 6th Sens II]
- Chirp doing what Chirp does best - giving us a rundown of what the team may be thinking re: Jared Cowen and playing Devil's Advocate. [SensChirp]
- Jeff has a piece on one half of the Ohio State duo, Max McCormick, who had a great first season in Binghamton. [Silver Seven]
- Speaking of the BSens, if Head Coach Luke Richardson is offered an NHL role, he'll listen. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Trevor profiles Jeremy Roy, a young defenseman who may be around when the Senators are up to pick in the second round. [SenShot]
- We're beginning to roll out our end of season player grades. Ross has the final Ups and Downs of the season, and Amelia has the report on the Senators goaltending trio. [Ups and Downs, Grades: Goaltenders]
- The folks over at SenShot have their end-of-season awards as well! [SenShot - Old Predictions, Top Forward, Most Improved, Needs Improvement, Best Goal]
- A wrap up post from the RBM crew, including a hilarious final line. [Bonk's Mullet]
- Your end-of-Nuggets audio comes from the folks over at Sens Callups, who wrap-up the season and interview friend of the blog, Ian Mendes. [Sens Callups]