26-year-old Jean-Gabriel Pageau was drafted 95th overall by the Senators in 2011, and in seven seasons the plucky forward has wormed his way into the hearts of many Sens fans. His hat trick in game 3 of the 2013 playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens still holds up as one of the most memorable moments in recent Senators history, as does his incredible four-goal performance against the Rangers in game 2 of the 2017 Rangers series. While Pageau has never been a superstar, his energetic style of play, his playoff performances, and his uncanny ability to destroy the Habs every time he plays them have made him a fan favourite. But fan favourites don’t stick around in Ottawa, do they?
Pageau is on his second year of a 3-year deal worth $3.1 Million annually. It’s generally considered to be a pretty good contract for a player of his caliber, and it’s easy to see why he’d be an attractive target for teams looking to add depth before the playoffs. He’s a versatile player who can hold down your penalty kill, excel on your third line, and easily step up to play on your first or second line if necessary. He’s also, as previously mentioned, an absolute beast in the playoffs, and you have to think his talents would be wasted on a team that is very obviously not going to make the playoffs this year. There are undoubtedly a few teams out there willing to pay a good price for him, and since Ottawa’s other centremen stepped up a lot while he was out with injury, a trade might make sense.
However, almost everything that makes Pageau valuable to other teams also makes him valuable to the Sens. His contract is affordable (#CostPerPoint), he’s a Local Boi™ who for some reason seems to like it here, and our penalty kill desperately needs him, as does our bottom six. He’s also one of the Senators who has played the most games with the team, and experience is important with such a young group. That makes his aforementioned versatility even more important too. It’s hard to imagine the Sens parting with such an affordable player with so much upside.
So what could Ottawa get for Pageau? I’m not an expert by any means, but I could see him pulling a third round pick, or a decent prospect. The Sens are in the middle of a rebuild, so their focus will probably be on getting more prospects in the pipeline. The teams most likely to trade for Pageau will of course be the ones in a playoff spot, so they’ll probably be more willing to part with future assets than with current players.
Will the Sens trade him? I hope not. And I don’t think they will, mainly because this team is often very hesitant to part with local guys, and Pageau is such a beloved player that it’s hard to see Ottawa parting with him very easily. I also think that his specific skillset is pretty valuable to the Sens at the moment.
Still, if they’re going to trade him, the time to do it would definitely be this year’s deadline, since he’s most valuable as a playoff performer, and he still has another year left on his deal.