Senators would benefit from a Pageau promotion
I've been holding my tongue (for the most part), until enough time past where I felt I could honestly weigh-in on the Mika Zibanejad for Derrick Brassard trade. Well, the regular season is almost over now and I've seen enough to know that it was a bad trade that has left a large, gapping hole in the middle of the Ottawa Senators line-up.
Not to slag Brassard too much (now that he's a member of our team), but when I bring up a comparrison of the two players on my Score app, despite Zibanejad playing 24 less games this season (due to an injury earlier in the year), their numbers are very similar:
Zibanejad / Brassard
Goals: 11 / 13
Assists: 22 / 24
Points: 33 / 37
Plus/Minus: 10 / 12
Shooting percentage: 11 / 7
PPG: 2 / 3
PPA: 7 / 4
Faceoff percentage: 52 / 50
Give Aways: 26 / 35
Take Aways: 33 / 31
Yet, Brassard is five years older and supposedly more seasoned.
On the ice, howeer, there is no comparrison as far as I am concerned. Zibanejad is a young, large, power centre. At 23 years of age, he has a tremendous upside. He is someone who is very difficult to move off the puck. He has a great shot and most importantly, he has great hands. And, he's a proven winner, leading the Swedish Junior team to their first gold medal at the World Juniors by scoring the OT winner.
Brassard on the other hand, loses most puck battles, especially in the corners where he reminds me of Alexander Daigle flailing away. The puck bounces off his stick and he is unable to finish most offensive plays successfully. His Give Away / Take Away numbers betray this weakness. Senators coach Guy Boucher has praised Brassard's defence. As a goalie I understand the importantce of defence but second line centres need to produce offensively as well. Suffice to say, I don't think Brassard's defensive play is any better than Zibanejad's, while his offensive play is lacking. Trading away a top, young prospect simply to attain a left-shot centre (As Dorion claimed at the time of the trade), is a pretty shoddy reason to get older without getting better. I suspect the trade had more to do with Brassard's connection to the Ottawa-Gatineau region and his Francophone background.
Enter Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau has impressed Ottawa hockey fans since he first came up. When Turris went down last year with an ankle injury, Pageau rose to the occassion, scoring 19 goals as Ottawa's #2 centre. A number Brassard won't come close to this year, depsite scoring 27 goals last year in a Rangers' uniform (a career year and a mark I doubt he will ever attain again). This year, with the return of Turris and the trade of Zibanejad for Brassard, Pageau has been religated to the third line, playing in Brassard's shadow despite having earned a shot at becoming a more offensive player. As a mainstay on our penalty killing team, Pageau has now proven he's both a solid defensive and offensive player. Pageau is also Francophone and a local product. Eventhough he was not a high draft pick, he has earned his way into the NHL through hard work, determination and a never say die competitive spirit. Jean-Gabriel Pageau epitomizes everything it means to be a Senator.
With the NHL playoffs right around the corner and the Senators struggling to score on most nights, I believe its time to promote Pageau to the second line so he can help generate more offense while maintaining the solid defensive play Boucher demands.
Line 1: Bobby Ryan - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone
Line 2: Zack Smith - JG Pageau - Mike Hoffman
Line 3: Alex Burrows - Derrick Brassard - Vicktor Stalberg
Line 4: Ryan Dzingel - Tommy Wingels - Tom Pyatt