The Ottawa Senators have locked up one of their playoff heroes, signing Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a three-year, $9.3MM contract. The deal, which will allow the two sides to avoid arbitration, will be structured as follows:
- 2017-18: $2.6MM
- 2018-19: $3.3MM
- 2019-20: $3.4MM
Pageau was scheduled to have a hearing on July 28th after filing for player-elected salary arbitration, but will instead sign a three-year deal that will take him to unrestricted free agency at 27. That expiry date could prove huge for Pageau, as at 24 he has already developed into a solid role player for the Senators.
Over the past two years, Pageau has played in all 164 games and registered 76 points giving Ottawa a solid third center option behind Kyle Turris and Derick Brassard (or Mika Zibanejad in 2015-16). Deployed in a somewhat defensive role, he’s received Selke votes in both seasons as one of the best defensive forwards in the league and has improved every season in the faceoff circle, winning a team-leading 54.8% of his draws last year.
In the playoffs he showed he could be a top performer, recording 10 points in 19 games including a four-goal performance in Game 2 against the New York Rangers, an overtime win that saw him skate over 28 minutes.
A $3.1MM cap hit is a nice raise for Pageau, who was coming off just $900K per season on his second contract. That number is a fine price to pay for him as a player, but does add to the increasing salary tied up at center for the Senators. With Brassard ($5MM), Turris ($3.5MM), Zack Smith ($3.25MM) all in the fold, it will be interesting to see how things play out. The Senators also have Colin White, a natural center, knocking down the door for a chance at the NHL, while they brought in a depth option in Nate Thompson this offseason on a two-year deal. Several of these players have experience at the wing, though who will shift off the middle is still unclear.
With the Senators now having just $7.6MM in cap space, the team still has Ryan Dzingel to sign as a restricted free agent. Other than that it’s unlikely that they do anything further to add salary, as the team normally operates under an internal budget that is below the cap ceiling. That may have changed slightly with the long playoff run in 2016-17, but with attendance issues even in the postseason it wouldn’t be surprising to see them shedding salary instead of adding it before the season begins.
Craig Morgan of AZ Sports was first to report the two sides had settled on a contract.
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