Monday, December 15, 2014

Jean-Gabriel Pageau Autograph Card

At first glance, when the Ottawa Senators drafted hometown boy Jean-Gabriel Pageau 96th overall in 2011, it may have looked like a risky pick, but seeing the way he dominated his opposition in Juniors (the Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier was among the victims of Pageau's brilliant two-way play), it was a gamble worth making.

Unfortunately for Pageau and the Sens, head coach Paul MacLean, seeing his sound play, elected to groom him little by little, by playing third- and fourth-line minutes rather than place him in an offensive role from the get-go (not unlike the Flyers with Couturier), so his NHL statistics so far (4 goals, 6 points in 32 regular-season games) don't seem all that impressive, but his 4 goals and 6 points in 10 playoff games sure do. As a matter of fact, he and Daniel Alfredsson are the only two Sens ever to have recorded a hat trick in the post-season.

GM Bryan Murray has said all year that Pageau deserved to make the team from training camp, but as the only forward eligible to be sent to the AHL's Binghamton Senators without having to clear waivers, he was on the outside looking in almost regardless of his play.

It's safe to say, though, that after posting a 20-goal and 44-point season in 46 AHL games last year and 18 points (second among forwards) in 25 games this year, he's earned his call-up in the wake of injuries to Chris Neil and Zach Smith.

With news that the Sens fired MacLean last week and replaced him with Dave Cameron, there was a sense that the 5'9'' speedster who turned 22 less than a month ago seemed to fit better on the younger, faster team that will try to make it back in the playoff picture with structured play and strong efforts - two things Pageau has in spades, in addition to his upside in the attacking zone.

It's fitting, then, that I share #44 off my Sens Numbers Project with this card of Pageau's, who has tremendous potential, when I already had one of Jason Spezza with the same number:
It's card #179 from the Authentic Rookie sub-set of Upper Deck's 2013-14 SP Game-Used Edition collection, showing him in the Senators' white (away) uniform, with a blue-sharpied, on-sticker autograph, with his jersey number tagged at the end.

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