Jean-Gabriel Pageau was in Columbus when he got the call from his agent Monday that he had been traded to the Islanders.
The Senators, for whom Pageau had played the first eight seasons of his NHL career, were set to face the Blue Jackets that night. Pageau was informed he had a plane to catch instead.
The 27-year-old center said he was in touch with former Ottawa teammate and current Islander Derick Brassard, who said Pageau neglected to ask any questions until after his six-year, $30 million contract extension became official.
But after it was a done deal, Pageau first needed to know where to report Tuesday morning.
“He thought we were playing at Barclays [Center],” Brassard said with a smile ahead of the Islanders’ fourth and final regular-season matchup with the Rangers on Tuesday at the Coliseum. “He was like, ‘Barclays? Is that the basketball [arena]? Is that where we’re playing tonight?’”
Once he was on the plane headed to New York, Pageau said he spent the first hour just thinking. Then, he fell asleep, unable to stay awake from the emotional toll deadline day had taken on him. But since arriving on Long Island, the Ontario native said he’s felt nothing but welcome.
Knowing the Islanders are hopefully his home for the next six years has played into that welcome feeling.
“As a player, you’re always looking for that security, where you’re going to spend the rest of your hockey career,” Pageau said. “But at the same time I take it as motivation. I want to prove to the fans, the organization, my teammates — I want to prove to everyone that they made the right decision in signing me for long term.”
In addition to Brassard, Pageau is already acquainted with several players in the Islanders’ locker room. He’s competed for Canada in the World Championships along with Brassard, Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock and Josh Bailey, who Pageau roomed with at one point.
Pageau’s locker was inserted right in the corner alongside his fellow French-Canadians, next to Michael Dal Colle, Brassard and Beauvillier. Brassard joked that the group had already been warned against speaking any other language besides English.
However, it isn’t just Pageau’s familiarity with the team that sent excitement through the organization.
“I think he checks a lot of the boxes that we’re looking for,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You’re looking for, obviously, more goals, looking for a right-handed faceoff guy, looking for a penalty killer, looking for a power-play guy, late game, important situations, that type of thing. He checks all of those boxes.”
Brassard, who shares the same hometown as Pageau and played alongside him in Ottawa for almost two seasons, said he knows the right-handed center will be a good fit for the Islanders.
“I think he felt like the organization and the team went out of their way to get him,” Brassard said. “I think it made him feel like he was important and that we really wanted him here.
“This guy is going to bring a lot for many years and we’re lucky to have him.”