UNIONDALE, N.Y. — On the week of the one-year anniversary of the New York Islanders acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau and his first game in blue and orange, the 28-year-old is proving why he was worth the hefty price to bring him to Long Island.
Pageau was one of seven different Islanders to score on Thursday in their 7-2 win over the East Division-leading Boston Bruins. Pageau has made it a bit of a habit this year to haunt Boston whenever they face the Islanders.
In three games, Pageau has four goals against Boston which included the game-winner in their first meeting of the year on Jan. 18. On Thursday, he had a shorthanded goal to put the Islanders up 5-2 at 12:24 of the third period and in the process picked up his second shorthanded goal of the season.
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) February 26, 2021
And most importantly for the Islanders in their win over Boston was that Pageau was able to take the place of Cal Clutterbuck after he was injured in the middle of the game.
“Pager can kind of do it all. Play any position and he is that utility piece for us,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “He’s been playing some phenomenal hockey all season. Getting him some extra ice is not going to hurt us at all.”
After Clutterbuck left the game on Thursday, Pageau was double-shifted by Islanders head coach Barry Trotz and put in Clutterbuck’s spot on the fourth line. The transition was seamless and the Islanders energy line didn’t miss a beat with Pageau on the wing.
The versatility Pageau has brought is something that Trotz has taken advantage of this year.
“He is so useful and he had some bite and snarl, and jump tonight,” Trotz said. “I can use him in so many different areas. I can use him in all three forward positions, obviously. It’s a good fit having that luxury of Pager being able to play in multiple lines.”
When the Islanders traded for Pageau they did pay a bit of a king’s ransom for the forward who was in the midst of a career-year. They had to send a first and second-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for Pageau and then promptly signed him to a six-year, $30 million contract extension, which caused some grumbling in Islanders country.
What the Islanders have gotten out of the deal could be worth more than what they had to give up in money and draft picks. Pageau instantaneously embraced his new team, scoring and getting into a fight with Jacob Trouba in his first game with the Islanders.
He became an invaluable piece during the Islanders’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals both on and off the ice. And this he’s picked up where he left off, tied for second on the team in goals with eight and tied for third in points with 12.
🎥 Pageau Pregame Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/6m3LAlZDVY
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 25, 2021
“Looking back (at the trade) I’m super excited with the result,” Pageau said before the Islanders decimated Boston. “I feel like it’s been going pretty fast. Just coming then going to the playoffs then going back to Ottawa to spend the shorter summer. And then coming back here for training camp and starting the year. It’s just been rock and roll, but I’m excited and I can’t wait to have more years here.”
Goalscorer, versatile forward, penalty killer and power-play performer are all ways to describe what Pageau has brought to the Islanders. But this season, there is one more quality that can be added to the list.
That would be a mentor.
Pageau has been playing alongside rookie Oliver Wahlstrom as of late and the two have been clicking since Trotz put the youngster into the lineup. Wahlstrom had come into this year as someone who had been known to have a more offensive mindset and he has been able to pick the brain of Pageau since they started playing with one another.
“He took me under his wing right away,” Wahlstrom said earlier in the week about Pageau. “He’s an easy guy to talk to and it’s fun learning from him. I’m not afraid to ask him questions and he’s just been a huge help. He’s been getting my confidence up a little bit, which is good. He’s been unbelievable for me and he’s playing unbelievable right now.”
The proof is certainly in the pudding. Wahlstrom assisted on Pageau’s game-winner on Monday and Wahlstrom scored his second goal of the year on Thursday when Pageau was on the ice.
Islanders star Mathew Barzal described Pageau as a utility knife because he can do just about everything. A year after joining the Islanders, it’s become clear just how true that really is.