Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau sets before a face off against...

Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau sets before a face off against the Seattle Kraken in the first period of an NHL hockey game at UBS Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

DETROIT – The Islanders face yet another crucial match in their longshot playoff push as they face the Red Wings on Thursday night seeking consecutive wins for just the second time since Dec. 13.

Providing even more urgency is the looming NHL trade deadline on March 8 as president/general manager Lou Lamoriello must decide the best course of action for the organization.

And, perhaps, within that overarching decision is what to do with the versatile Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He can center either a top-six or bottom-six line, plays on both the power play and penalty kill and has a contract that could be moveable and open enough salary cap space to bring in another larger contract.

“My name is always thrown out there every year so I’ve learned to kind of just live with it,” Pageau said after the Islanders’ hourlong practice at Little Caesars Arena. “It’s out of your control, really. If a team doesn’t want you, they’ll find a way to trade you. And if a team really wants you, they’ll find a way to come and get you. It’s out of my control.”

Pageau, acquired from his hometown Ottawa Senators on Feb. 24, 2020 for a package that included a first-round pick, is in the fourth season of a six-year, $30 million contract. It includes a modified no-trade clause of 16 teams to which Pageau can potentially block a deal.

The Islanders (24-20-14) are seven points behind the Lightning, who hold the second wild-card spot, and seven points behind the third-place Flyers and a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are 10 points behind the Red Wings (first wild-card spot), who have won six straight.

Per, the Islanders have approximately $135,000 in cap space, not nearly enough to make a big move without moving salary.

“We don’t have much space left right now today,” Lamoriello said last week. “But you can always make transactions to create space. So whatever we can do, if we can, to make ourselves better, we’re certainly going to do that.”

But would subtracting Pageau and opening $5 million in cap space for, say, a scoring wing (the Senators’ Vladimir Tarasenko? the Blues’ Pavel Buchnevich? the Sharks’ Anthony Duclair?) constitute making the Islanders better?

The Islanders are deep at center and coach Patrick Roy converting Brock Nelson to Bo Horvat’s left wing has elevated Pageau to the second line where, theoretically, he’ll have more scoring chances. Pageau is also in the bumper spot for the second power-play unit and a key penalty killer.

He just hasn’t produced a ton of points with the Islanders, notching seven goals and 15 assists in 58 games this season with his 40 points in 70 games last season a high point in his tenure.

“I take pride in every position or opportunity or role they give me,” Pageau said.

His versatility is of great value. But his contract is tradeable and the Islanders are deep at center.

Pageau has heard this all before. He’s ready for whatever happens.

More Islanders

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months