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Pageau’s ‘Not Good’ Season Complicates Islanders Trade Possibilities



AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

EAST MEADOW, NY– Jean-Gabriel Pageau was upfront when assessing his performance for the New York Islanders this season. By his own omission, the forward underwhelmed.

“Not good enough,” said Pageau as the Islanders cleaned out their lockers last Saturday. “Looking back, there’s some stuff I did well but way more stuff that I could’ve been better. I’m still going to go back and look exactly where I can do better, and I’ll work on it this summer. I love to work hard in the summer, so I’ll make sure I’m ready for next season.”

Pageau has long been considered an indispensable player for the New York Islanders. His gritty style of play fit in seamlessly with the team when he was acquired back in 2020 and has been integral to its identity ever since.

But as the Islanders are facing a cap crunch this offseason and in need of more high-end skill, Pageau could be the first player out the door.

With the NHL’s salary cap set to increase to $87.7 million next season, the Islanders are projected to have a total of $9.79 million in cap space when free agency begins on July 1. That’s enough to fill some holes in the bottom six and maybe add some depth on the back end, but if the Islanders are going to make a splash, they’re going to need more cash.

Pageau is on the books for $5 million over the next two years, and moving his contract in a trade is the quickest way for the Islanders to add the cap space they desperately need. However, the disappointing season Pageau put together will, in all likelihood, complicate potential trade discussions.

Despite appearing in all 82 games for the first time in nine years, Pageau’s 33 points in 2023-24 were a regression from last season and was his lowest in a non-COVID-shortened season since 2018. Tie that in with the fact that he has a 16-team no-movement clause attached to his contract, and shipping out Pageau becomes much easier said than done. Still, a trade is in the Islanders’ best interest.

“We’ll make whatever changes have to be made,” said Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello. “There’s there’s nothing sacred. There’s nothing that won’t be done. But it does take two to make those changes, and they will be made appropriately if the opportunity is there. But we’re not going to just make the change for the sake of change.”

Pageau’s name was thrown around in NHL trade rumors last offseason, but the time now seems right for his departure after the emergence of Kyle MacLean. The rookie forward debuted for the Islanders in January and quickly carved out a role for himself on the team while paying a striking resemblance to Pageau.

“Mac up and made an impact immediately because he plays extremely hard,” said Islanders captain Anders Lee. “He’s very smart, knows how to play his position, knows his role and showed up every night. That’s exactly the type of player that we needed at the time and the type of character that we should all be emulating. That’s a big reason why he made such an impact on this team, because he played so well and took advantage of his opportunity. Night in and night out, he was doing everything he could to help us win hockey games.”

Being pushed out from behind with nowhere to go, Pageau’s undetermined fate will be a point of contention for the Islanders all summer.

“That’s the part that’s always hard in this in this business,” Pageau said. “You never know what can happen. It’s a bit out of your control.”



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The fact that ownership is sticking with LL, is a bad look. Yes, they have made the playoffs numerous times in the last 6 seasons, and if making the playoffs were the goal, then Bravo. Unfortunately, the rest of the league sets their sites higher than “just making the playoffs”!! Somehow, LL has to unbidden this team of exceedingly long deals for just about 90% of the team!! Everyone does not deserve an 7 or 8 year deal, and it is coming back to bury this franchise. If Lou cannot find partners to trade with, the Isles as an organization… Read more »