Ottawa Should Take Note On Pageau’s Development

Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s road to the NHL began in Binghamton & it’s paid off with patience

See what happens when you use your resources?

The Ottawa Senators 6-5 thrilling double overtime victory vs. the NY Rangers on Saturday came largely in part of forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s four goal performance that put the Sens in a 2-0 series lead in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Pageau’s performance reached epic tiers that will be forever instilled in the hearts and souls of the Senators’ fanbase without a doubt.

Ottawa took the risks in rushing several prospects throughout the years, but this is one that the front office decided to take their time with, and it’s paid off royally at the most important point of the season.

The 24-year-old native of Ottawa was a 4th-round pick in the 2011 draft and was earmarked to begin his pro career for the then BSens’ ECHL affiliate Elmira Jackals, (who have recently dissolved due to financial misfortunes). However, he fought his way through and demonstrated resolve despite the numbers crunch with the abundance of forwards at the time, and at the same time earned the trust of then-coaching staff of Luke Richardson and assistant Steve Stirling to remain on the Binghamton roster

Pageau spent a collective total of two and a half years honing his craft for the Binghamton Senators and in 142 games, he registered 38 goals while recording 56 assists.

In his rookie season, JGP scored 7 and had 22 assists in 69 games while adding 2 goals and 2 assists in 9 contests with Ottawa. Pager then spent the better parts of 2013-’15 seasons with Binghamton before joining Ottawa for good in the spring of 2015.

Despite his smallish stature, Pager can fly down the ice with puck control and create scoring chances. The 5’ 10” spark plug played a big role for the BSens in making the playoffs in two consecutive seasons (2012-14).

He was soon called up for Ottawa’s post-season run in 2013 and delivered with the unforgettable three-goal effort against the Montreal Canadians where the Pageau, Pageau, Pageau chants sprung into action. The same ones newly reborn down the corridors at CTC this past Saturday. Good times for sure.

But I have a dilemma that needs to be addressed.

The main focus in this narrative blog entry of mine, being most likely my last for S7S (Editor’s note: :( ), is this. The problem I have, and most Binghamton fans would agree with, is the rush of several prospects that Ottawa has done in recent years.

Defenseman Cody Ceci comes to mind right away. While he looked somewhat decent in last Saturday’s overtime session, his play in regulation has been just plain dreadful so far in the playoffs. It just proves how disappointing Ceci has become with very little length of development in the AHL (30 games). As a slight comparison, Fredrik Claesson spent four full seasons playing in the AHL (2012-16) before becoming a somewhat permanent fixture on Ottawa’s blueline. Not 30 games mind you, but four seasons.

Former Senators’ forward Curtis Lazar was another highly touted prospect that was poorly handled right from the get go. Zero games in the AHL, as Lazar was inserted into Ottawa’s line-up right from the juniors. Although I realize his age forced Ottawa’s hand, as he was ineligible to play in the AHL at 19, but in hindsight, perhaps another season for the Edmonton Oil Kings should’ve been the course of action, then he could continue up the ranks for Binghamton the following season. He began 2016-17 for the BSens in 13 games but at that point, it was too late for the young Curtis, as he was soon traded away.

Lazar had a really good attitude while spending his time in Binghamton. As a matter of fact, he was willing to spend the season here with no repercussions. It’s a shame how he was dealt with.

And the recent handling of another top prospect in forward Colin White has been really bizarre, as he rode the pine in Ottawa just after three games in Binghamton before his call-up that eventually led to burning a year on his ELC. Three games people! It remains to be seen what the team does with him to start next season.

Additionally, there was a move that wasn’t made at the AHL level that cost the BSens heavily.

Goaltender Matt O’Connor should’ve spent the majority of his rookie campaign playing in the ECHL. No question about it, as he has suffered greatly over the course of his two years in the organization. O’C was finally forced to go to Wichita to make room for the incoming Andrew Hammond, but got lit up in two appearances giving up 7 goals on 56 shots for the Thunder (0-2, 4.63 GAA, 0.875 SV%) before returning to Bingo with Hammond’s season-ending hip injury. Again, a little too late.

But it hasn’t been all that bad in Sens’ land.

Rookie forward Ryan Dzingel has been good. I mean, this kid can fly. He played in 119 games for the BSens over the course of three seasons (2013-’16) and was properly allowed time to adjust to the ranks at the pro level before making the jump.

Same can be said about Mark Stone (2012-14), Mike Hoffman (2010-14) and Shane Prince (2012-15) to name a few for Bingo.

So yes, the lesson to be learned is this. It has largely been proven that patience and guidance is needed for a better percentage of most prospects before they make their transitional stage to the NHL. That is why you have affiliates at the AHL and ECHL levels. It can be done and if not, you may see results that are tarnished like the Cecis and Lazars of the past. Most prospects are no Connor McDavid, ready for the NHL right away.

Colin White needs time in the AHL before he earns a ticket to the show — I’ve said it before on Twitter and I’ll say it again. Ottawa, please don’t screw this one up. And take notes on the progressions on one of your own, JGP, and simply adhere to it.

You won’t regret it, I promise.


*On a side note, I will be shifting over to the New Jersey site here at SBNation covering the Binghamton Devils next season once the Ottawa Senators post-season run comes to an end. Thanks to all my followers over the past two seasons at S7S, and two years prior at SenShot. You guys rock! Thank You!

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