Jean-Gabriel Pageau was traded to the New York Islanders by the Ottawa Senators on Monday and agreed to a six-year, $30 million contract with his new team.
"Just to see how competitive the team is already, and I know some of the players already on the team, I know the coaches and I've heard a lot of good things," Pageau said. "I've heard only good things about the Islanders. To have the chance to be joining the team, it's just such an honor for me. I couldn't be more excited just to go on a team that's going to be competing every year for [a Stanley Cup Playoff berth] or for a championship. I couldn't be more excited as a player. That's what we play for, that's what drives us. That's why I'm excited to go and play for them."
The 27-year-old forward, who could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1, will receive $5 million per season. He said he hopes to play his first game for the Islanders at the New York Rangers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV).
"A lot of emotions, a lot of mixed feelings in the past few days," Pageau said. "It was my first time going through something like this. It was hard. Ottawa was home for me. I'm so thankful for everything that they did for me, for all the opportunities and the chance that they gave me. But at the same time, I'm so excited to get it going."
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Ottawa received a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. If the first-round pick in 2020 becomes a top-three pick, the Senators will get the Islanders' unconditional first-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. Ottawa will receive the third-round pick in 2022 if New York wins the Stanley Cup.
"He's played great for the organization, given his heart and soul, but it's also a business and it came down to the last little bit here," Senators coach D.J. Smith said. "But that's a heck of a return. He's going to have an opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup. That's what everyone plays for, but we know that there's a process here with our team and we're going to continue to get better."
Pageau has 40 points (24 goals, 16 assists) in 60 games this season. The 24 goals are an NHL career high.
"Certainly the addition today is a player that fits right in as far as who we are, the way we play and the style we play," Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "I don't think there will be much of an adjustment period for him. We certainly watched him enough, played against him, our coaches know him. Without question we feel there were holes that we were able to fill with players that wouldn't take any period of time to adjust."
Lamoriello said Pageau strengthens the center position for New York.
"With [Mathew Barzal] and Brock [Nelson], now Pageau and Casey [Cizikas], I think it solidifies [us] down the middle for a good period of time," he said. "Also with the addition of a right shot, that was extremely important. We would have been lopsided if we got [another] left shot."
Ottawa was selected by Ottawa in the fourth round (No. 96) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
"Today was probably the toughest call I've ever made as a general manager. It was very difficult to tell Jean-Gabriel that he was traded," Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said. "I remember watching him in Gatineau in the playoffs against [Florida Panthers forward] Jonathan Huberdeau and how he played well, and we were fortunate enough to take him in the fourth round that year. ... I can tell you I don't get very emotional a lot with players, but today was a very difficult call to make with him."
The Islanders (35-20-6), who are two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, are one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for third in the Metropolitan Division.
"If we were going to trade a player of that caliber, we felt that we needed a good return," Dorion said. "I give a lot of credit to Lou Lamoriello. When he put the first rounder on the table, and then we're talking about multiple pieces, he put the other pieces on, we knew that we could get a deal done."
NHL.com deputy managing editor Brian Compton and independent correspondents Craig Merz and Callum Fraser contributed to this report