SenSeries Profile: Forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau


With the Ottawa Senators training camp under way there is one player that’s on the edge of making the Senators’ roster or face having to refine his talent down route 81 south of the Canadian border and that being Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The 21-year-old Gatineau, Que. native will be entering his last season under a three-year, entry-level contract that have raised awareness around the NHL on how strong his game translates on the ice, all 5’9 175 pounds of him. The spark plug center brings intensity while competing defensively, although he’ll most likely get the nod for the Binghamton Senators to start the 2014-’15 season in what appears to be is a crowded offense line up for Ottawa.

 Insert Pic Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.

Gatineau Olympiques –

Pageau played three years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Gatineau Olympiques (2009-’12) and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (2012) before then Senators’ assistant GM Tim Murray urged Pageau to report to Binghamton and forego his fourth year in the QMJHL as he was eligible to play in the AHL.

2010-’11 was his break out season in his sophomore year as Gatineau’s leading point producer with a career high 32 goals, 47 assists in 67 regular season tilts that helped lead them to the playoffs. Pageau continued his offensive onslaught in the post season with 13 goals and 16 helpers in 24 games as the Olympiques fell short in the President’s Cup Finals losing to Saint John Sea Dogs in six.

"He’s got the ability to slow the game down and play it at his speed. It’s a rare gift … he’s got a good shot, he skates well, and more than anything, he competes … some people have been saying Jean-Gabriel has a look in his eyes like he can’t believe what’s happening to him. I look at his eyes and I see burning fire.(Olympiques head coach Benoit Groulx)"

In 2011-’12 he was the top point producer for the Olympiques with 23 goals and 16 assists as Captain before he was traded to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens after 23 games, where Pageau finished with 9 goals and 17 assists also in 23 games in the regular season. Another strong push in the post season as he finished fourth in team points with 14 in 16 games as the Sagueneens made it to the third round before being eliminated once again by Saint John in five, as the Sea Dogs won their second consecutive championship.

Ottawa took a chance and drafted him despite his small frame but liked what they saw and offered him a contract in the off-season of 2012.

Binghamton/Ottawa Senators –

His first pro training camp was held in Binghamton as the NHL was in lock down mode in 2012-’13. The fourth round draft pick was eyed to possibly play for the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL and get plenty of ice time making the adjustments along the way. However, Luke Richardson was impressed in his pre-season contests and started him on the fourth line as a defensive threat. After slowly getting his offense going scoring his first pro goal Dec 19, 2012 in a win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Richardson made room to keep him in Binghamton’s line-up as he continued to progress bringing with him high energy and some hard work ethics.

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Soon after the lock out was lifted, Pageau was called up on Apr 10, 2013 and made an immediate impact by having an assist in his first NHL game and two nights later scored his first NHL goal in a Sens win against the NJ Devils. Pageau stayed in Ottawa for the rest of the season and for the playoffs, registering four points in nine regular season games.

In the playoffs, that is where people started to take notice. He scored a hat trick in a post season win in game three against the Montreal Canadians and finished with four goals and two assists in ten games to cap off his rookie season. With his hatty, he became only the fifth player to have ever done that for his age (under 21) in the NHL. The chants of  “Pageau, Pageau, Pageau” can still be heard throughout the street’s of the Capital City today.

At this time last season Jean-Gabriel was riding on adrenaline still hung over from the playoffs and busting at the seams with confidence as he had a very good training camp beating out the likes of Mika Zibanejad and made the Ottawa Senators roster. Unfortunately, the train ride stopped as Pageau had a disappointing start with one goal in eight games as the Senators were off to a 4-6-2 record. On Oct 31, 2013, he was summoned down to Binghamton to find his groove and round out his game. That would be the first of three different shuttles between the two cities last season.

In 46 games for the B-Sens, Pageau had 20 goals, 24 assists and a +15 earning him nearly a point per game average and one goal in four playoff games. Up in Ottawa, 28 games, 2 goals 0 assists and -5 as they missed the post season in what turned out to be a disappointing season that looked to be a building block to their success moving forward from the previous one. Ouch.

His success for the Binghamton Senators was he led the club with five game winning goals while having managed 20 in all. Pager claimed the club’s top Defensive Forward Award (and was the team’s MVP in 2012-’13). That’s pretty good despite his size as he shows it’s about heart and playing hard every game with the right attitude to win over his critics.

I recall on how well Mark Stone, Pageau and Matt Puempel played together last season, especially the night of Apr 19, 2014 that stood out the most, when Pageau lit the lamp three times against the Penguins for the hat trick. With Stone dropping three quick passes to #44 making it look so easy in setting him up as Pageau was in perfect position for all three finding the right opening. That takes hockey instincts and he has it.

Season Outlook: If Pager can get off to a flying start for the B-Sens then that will gain some of his confidence back  that he lost over the course of last year. It didn’t help with so many recalls filling in for injuries as well, but going forward he’s got to play his game when he does get called up and not play it so safe. Either way, I believe management hasn’t given up on him and his potential he can bring to the ice.