The NHL Trade Deadline is set for February 24th at 3:00pm EST, and the rebuilding Ottawa Senators have some important decisions to make before then. Their biggest asset is undoubtedly Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is having a breakout season and is set to become a UFA on July 1st. Realistically, how much is Pageau actually worth as a deadline acquisition?
I think it is fair to assume that at the beginning of this season most Ottawa Senators fans were tired of seeing their favourite players being traded away after the mass exodus that the last 2 seasons have been. Personally, I don’t think I can handle another video tribute for a returning player.
However a few factors have changed the entire perception of the fan base.
Pageau has had an outstanding year. He’s leading the team in goals with a career-high 22, but what stands out to me is the +9 he’s posted while averaging just over 19 minutes pregame on a team with a -44 goal differential. No to mention, Pageau is constantly matched up against the opposing team’s top line.
Why does this change fans’ perception about keeping him? Because there is a strong belief that he could fetch a 1st round pick for the 2020 draft.
Ottawa already has 2 selections in the 1st round, however the talent inside the top 20 is quite impressive this season, much like 2015. Adding a 3rd pick would be great for the prospect pool and only benefit them in the future, and the fans recognize this.
This is a stark contrast to how fans felt a year ago, when we essentially pleaded that all of our stars would stay. Now, we want all the assets we can get.
With that being said, retaining him would not be the end of the world. He would be a solid 3rd line centre for a contending Ottawa Senators team in the future. But let’s be honest, it’s more fun to think of potential trades. So, let’s explore what Pageau could earn the Senators at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline:
If I’m Pierre Dorion, I’m hammering home Pageau’s playoff performances over the years. He came onto the scene in Game 3 of the first round in 2013 when he scored a hat-trick against the rival Montreal Canadiens in an absolute beatdown.
Most notably, he scored 4 goals including the OT winner in Game 2 of the second round during the 2017 playoff run.
Aside from these scoring sprees, he’s proven that he can successfully shutdown the other team’s top player, doing so to Sidney Crosby in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals (for the most part). He’s a defensive centreman who is showing he has a scoring touch this season.
If I’m opposing GMs trying to bargain, I would not be willing to part with a first round pick and maybe more for a playoff rental who plays on the 3rd line. Which creates an issue.
A team like the Colorado Avalanche seem to be a prime target, based on the fact that they are going to be without Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri for an extended period of time. Pageau could easily play 2nd line centre until Kadri returns. Although Sens fans can be forgiven if they are weary about trades between Joe Sakic and Pierre Dorion.
Another important thing to consider is the two major trades that have already happened. To recap:
First, between the Wild and the Penguins:
- 2020 1st Round Pick (can become a 2021 first if the Penguins miss the playoffs)
- Calen Addison
- Alex Galchenyuk
Then between the Devils and the Lightning:
To Tampa Bay:
To New Jersey:
- VAN 2020 1st Round Pick (becomes a 2021 1st if the Canucks miss the playoffs)
- Nolan Foote
Immediately, both of these trades raised my eyebrows and my willingness to part with Pageau. Zucker and Coleman are both wingers, and I believe Pageau is the better all round player than either of them, especially as a centreman.
The important thing to note is that both of those players are not considered to be rentals. Zucker has another 3 years remaining on his deal while Coleman has 1 more season after this. That would be the only factor that separates Pageau from the return that these two brought.
In addition, both the Wild and the Devils took advantage of two teams that are absolutely all in for the next few seasons, and good on them for it. This should force other teams in the East to bolster their depth up front, like the Boston Bruins
While both 1st Round Picks will be firsts regardless of the conditions attached, I still believe Pageau should fetch something similar. This needs to be a situation where Dorion goes for quality over quantity.
Realistically, I think Jean-Gabriel Pageau is worth at least a conditional 1st Round Pick and a roster player, or an A-level prospect.
It’s important not to compare this to trades that the Sens have made in the past, but to focus on what the market is at this trade deadline. The 2 trades above have helped set the market for Dorion to go out and add to the many assets he has acquired over the past 2 years.
Of course, this could all be for nothing and the Sens could sign Pageau, but speculation about trades is fun during a rebuild.