Season Review – For a player that the Senators organization wasn’t even sure would play pro hockey this season, Jean-Gabriel Pageau had quite the impact. After toying with the idea of sending him back to junior for his overage year, Pageau took advantages of the opportunities that were available to him and made the most of them, unlike some other on the Senators roster. He didn’t have the greatest offensive season, playing most of it in Binghamton and recording 7 goals and 22 assists in 69 games with the B-Sens. Then, after finally getting a call to the big club on a recommendation from Luke Richardson he made his NHL debut on April 11th. He had an assist in his debut, and followed that up with a goal in his second game. He played the final 9 games of the season and made it impossible for Paul MacLean to take him out of the lineup with his solid play in both ends of the ice. He finished the regular season with 2 goals and 2 assists and even saw time on the first line.
Playoffs – Pageau became a cult hero of sorts during the Montreal series. The highlight of the season for many Sens fans was after Pageau recorded a hat trick in game 3 of the series. The entire balance of Scotiabank Place was serenading him with the tune of the hated Montreal “Ole, Ole, Ole”, replacing the Ole’s with “Pageau”. It was a defining moment in the series, and in the same game was the line-brawl that turned the tide of the series and led to Ottawa’s finishing the series in 5 games. He ended the playoffs with 6 points in 10 games.
Contract Status – Pageau has 2 years left on his 3 year entry level deal with a cap hit of $613,000.
Importance To Franchise – He took the franchise and the fan base by storm and showed he can be a reliable player, but I would still hesitate to call him a solution to the problems. He could be a piece of the puzzle and a solid contributor, but a full season would tell more about what his contribution would be.
Needs to Improve – He is small, and you can’t teach size. Players of his stature need to constantly get stronger on their skates and stick. What he does have is speed to burn and solid hands, which works in his favor.
Grade – A…If you say that you predicted back in September (or January, or even the beginning of April for that matter), that Pageau would have any impact on the NHL, let alone the level of impact he had, you would be lying. Nobody, including the organization and the player himself would have even guessed that he would become the Cinderella player that he became. He was one of the best stories in an eventful season.