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Never accuse Pierre Dorion of being all talk and no action.
On NHL trade deadline day, he led the way by making four deals, including the best deal of the day by sending centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders in exchange for a first and second round selections in 2020 along with a third-round pick in 2022. That’s a huge haul for unrestricted free agent centre because those picks will play a big role for this team down the road.
All three of the selections carry conditions, but the reality is Dorion forced the Islanders to pay a high price after the 27-year-old Pageau turned down a five-year extension in Ottawa and signed a six-year, $30 million deal with the Islanders only hours after the trade was made.
But, if you think Dorion stopped there, then hang on. He also sent forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth-round pick in 2021 in the first deal of the day and then acquired a 2021 fifth-rounder for winger Tyler Ennis. Last week, the Senators sent Dylan DeMelo to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a third-round pick In 2020.
The club also picked up forward Matthew Peca from the Montreal Canadiens in a minor-league deal and he joined the Senators in time to suit up Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road at Nationwide Arena while the club also had to recall Rudolfs Balcers from its AHL affiliate in Belleville because Bobby Ryan won’t return until Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators.
With the club in a full rebuild, Dorion was pleased with he was able to accomplish on what turned out to be a busy day. The Senators now have three first round picks in the draft in June in Montreal and nine picks in the first three rounds. Dorion felt good about what the club was able to accomplish because you can never have enough assets to use down the road.
“Today was a good day in advancing the plan for the rebuild,” Dorion said in a news conference Monday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre. “If you sum up the day, and you look at the sum of the draft picks we go, it was important for us to do that. We did one deal where we someone we feel is a depth player (in Peca) to help us get through (the season).
“We want the players in Belleville, especially the young group and some of our key veterans, to keep winning for a playoff run there. If you sum up the day, you look at all the assets and picks we were able to acquire, especially for this year’ s draft, it says a lot. It’s one of the deepest drafts, according to our scouts and that I’ve seen personally in the last 20 years, in the first round and in the first three rounds.”
No, not everybody will be happy at the decision to move Pageau because he’s the club’s leading scorer, but the reality is he’s going to be slotted in as a third-line centre down the road and the Senators were never going to give him the money or term he received from the Islanders. That doesn’t mean they didn’t want to keep Pageau, they were just determined to get his salary to fit in where they wanted.
In an attempt to keep Pageau in the fold it’s believed the Senators tabled a five-year deal in excess of $20 million Sunday morning but it wasn’t enough to get the deal done and he opted to move elsewhere. The two sides likely had one more discussion Monday morning to try to bridge the gap and then the decision was made by Dorion to move on because the club had a terrific offer from the Islanders.
“We were in contract negotiations for the last little while and we felt we made good progress on a contract,” Dorion said. “At a certain point in time, we saw that a contract couldn’t be done. From then on we started looking at options of possibly moving him.”
The Senators had the opportunity to sell high and they jumped at it. In the end, everybody acts in their own best interests and this was the last chance of Pageau’s career for him to hit a home run. There was no shortage of interest with the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins among those who had shown some level of interest.
“There were teams calling. You’ve got always be respectful to the process and not say the number,” said Dorion. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Lou Lamoriello, when he put the first round pick on the table and talked about multiple pieces, we knew that we could get a deal done. There were other teams that were likely disappointed because they wanted to get (Pageau).
“You always have to do what’s best for the organization and what’s best for the plan moving forward and if you knew you can’t sign the player then, at the same time, you make sure you get a very good return and we feel we were able to do that with this deal.”
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