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Behind The Numbers

Pageau, Islanders among best fits acquired at NHL Trade Deadline

Center's face-off ability in own zone should boost New York, statistics show

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor

Each week goes Behind the Numbers, using underlying statistics to identify trends, areas of improvement for teams and players, and predict what could happen in upcoming games. Today, looks at the best statistical fits from the NHL Trade Deadline.


Pageau's defensive zone face-offs

The New York Islanders acquired center Jean-Gabriel Pageau in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Monday for three draft picks, then signed him to a six-year, $30 million contract (average annual value $5 million). Pageau is the prototypical Islanders forward who can play a two-way game and lock down his defensive responsibilities when needed. He also brings a scoring threat to New York, 23rd in the NHL in goals scored (176). Pageau scored his NHL career-high 25th goal of the season, fought New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, and skated 12:07 in his debut with the Islanders, a 4-3 overtime loss Tuesday. Pageau skated mostly on the third line with Josh Bailey and Michael Dal Colle, a spot he will likely keep down the stretch behind centers Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson.

What makes Pageau such a good fit? Because he ranks fourth in the NHL in defensive zone face-off wins (249), coach Barry Trotz can deploy Pageau and the third line in critical defensive-zone situations late in games. One area of concern for the Islanders is puck possession, where they rank 30th in the NHL with a minus-409 shot attempts differential, ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings (minus-440). Nine of the top 10 teams in SAT last season qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with 20 games remaining, the Islanders are unlikely to drastically improve this statistic. The good news is Pageau, who is tied for 24th among forwards with 48 blocks, fits their system well and can increase their League-leading blocked shot total (1,068) to help offset the lopsided shot attempts differential.

Video: NYR@NYI: Pageau scores in his Islanders debut


Lehner's save percentage

Goalie Robin Lehner was acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. On paper it might not have seemed like the biggest need for the Golden Knights, who have Marc-Andre Fleury as their No. 1 goalie, but taking a deeper dive with the statistics, Fleury's .908 save percentage is his lowest since his .905 in 2009-10 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The addition of Lehner gives Vegas security of having one of the best backups in the League who could handle the workload of the starting job if needed.

Lehner has carried over his success from last season, when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist with the Islanders, to this season; he's tied for sixth in the NHL with a .918 save percentage among goalies to play at least 30 games. Lehner's biggest statistical strength is his League-leading .920 save percentage when facing the opposing team's power play. This could be the missing link on the Golden Knights penalty kill, which is ranked 22nd (78.0 percent). Lehner should see a fair number of starts down the stretch to help with load management and likely will help when Vegas is down a man. 


Trocheck's goals

The Carolina Hurricanes acquired Vincent Trocheck in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Monday, addressing a need for a right-handed center who can score. Trocheck scored 10 goals in 55 games with the Panthers in each of the past two seasons but scored an NHL career-high 31 goals in 82 games in 2017-18. Trocheck can play on the second or third line and provide a goal-scoring threat on any given shift. 

No. 1 center Sebastian Aho leads the Hurricanes with 36 goals in 62 games but the next-highest goal-scoring skater who predominantly plays center is Jordan Staal with eight. Trocheck's shooting percentage this season (7.8 percent) is lower than his NHL average (10 percent), but higher than last season (6.3 percent), signifying he could regain his scoring touch. 

A more underrated part of Trocheck's game is his ability to win face-offs, a sought-after commodity among right-handed centers. Trocheck won 52.3 percent of face-offs with the Panthers and went 12-5 (70.6 percent) in his first game with Carolina, indicating this will be a large part of his role. The Hurricanes are tied for 10th in team face-off win percentage (50.6 percent) and are third in SAT differential (plus-485). Face-off wins can lead to increased puck-possession time, signaling Trocheck is a good fit for the Hurricanes.

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