Last Saturday night on Headlines, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman linked Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mentioning that Ottawa is potentially looking to move him. Also, that the Penguins may be looking at him. The Penguins have been trying to get a third line center all year. This could potentially be the one if they really go after him. Let’s take a look at why this would be a good fit for Pittsburgh.
Pageau: A Great Target For The Penguins
This may not be the most exciting player for the Penguins to acquire but he’s very young (25) and he is in what many call his “peak years.” He also doesn’t count much towards the salary cap. Pageau is signed for two more seasons and has an AAV of $3.1M per season. That’s especially good for the Penguins because they almost always have cap issues.
They’ll possibly be able to extend him if he performs well. His cap hit is a bit higher than that of Nick Bonino when he was here. Bonino’s was ($1.9 million) but that’s a non-issue. Pageau should be able to come close to matching Bonino’s production too. Bonino had 37 points last season while Pageau had 33. Right now, Pageau has three more points than he does.
Bumps Sheahan down
Riley Sheahan has been very effective since coming over from the Detroit Red Wings earlier in the season. That said, he’s much better suited as the fourth line center. General manager Jim Rutherford even said so a couple weeks ago, saying that he doesn’t think he produces enough to be the third line center. Pageau does produce more than Sheahan and has proven it during the last couple of seasons. For instance, during the 2015-2016 season, Pageau set a career high in points with 43 and goals with 19. Currently, he has six goals and 15 points through 43 games on an Ottawa team that is going to miss the playoffs.
Sheahan has been great as the fourth line center and that would allow the Penguins to put Phil Kessel on a line with Pageau if they choose. That would be a bit of an upgrade from Tom Pyatt who plays with Pageau a lot with Ottawa. Mike Sullivan has always said they prefer Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kessel all on their own line and this acquisition would allow them to do that. Overall, it would make the Penguins a deeper team than they’ve been all season.
Some of that ability has been touched on. However, he can produce offense and that’s what this team needs at his position. Their shooting percentage is starting to go up and Pageau could definitely help it continue in that direction. In two of Ottawa’s three playoff runs, he’s been one of their best offensive players. He scored four goals against the Rangers in game two of their series last spring.
In his first playoff run in 2012-2013, he had four goals and six points. Last year, he had eight goals and 10 points. Contributing heavily to Ottawa’s Eastern Conference Final run. Pittsburgh has won their last two cups relying on all four lines to score. Having a player Pageau come alive in the playoffs is a massive boost for their chances of a threepeat.
In his last three seasons combined, his 5v5 points per 60 are 1.20 according to Corsica.hockey. His 5v5 points per 60 this season has dropped to 0.70 as the team hasn’t played well. His possession numbers have never been strong as his CF % this season is 45.1%. Even when he had his best statistical season of his career back in 2015-2016, it was only at 47.2%.
The asking price to get Pageau is still unknown. Pittsburgh would surely have to move salary of some kind off the books for him and likely a pick as well. His acquisition would make it even tougher to beat the Penguins four out of seven times in a playoff series assuming they get in.