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NHL Awards 2019: PHT hands out hardware at the All-Star break


It’s the NHL All-Star break, so it’s probably a good time to reflect back on the first three-and-a-half months of the season and take a sneak peek at who’s in the awards conversation. There’s been plenty of surprises, disappointments, coaching changes, general manager changes and we still have lots more hockey left to play.

As we get set for the All-Star Skills and All-Star Game, let’s take a look at who we think is deserving of the Hart, Norris, Vezina, Adams, Calder and Selke Trophies, along with some first-half surprises and disappointments.

Biggest surprise (player)
SEAN: Robin Lehner
JAMES: Robin Lehner
ADAM: Elias Lindholm
JOEY: Elias Lindholm
SCOTT: Robin Lehner

Biggest surprise (team)
SEAN: Islanders
JAMES: Islanders
ADAM: Islanders
JOEY: Islanders
SCOTT: Islanders

Biggest disappointment (player):
SEAN: Ilya Kovalchuk
JAMES: Ilya Kovalchuk
ADAM: Ilya Kovalchuk
JOEY: Sergei Bobrovsky
SCOTT: James Neal

Biggest disappointment (team)
SEAN: Panthers
JAMES: Flyers
ADAM: Flyers
JOEY: Kings
SCOTT: Blues


SEAN: Even among a team of stars and budding stars (Brayden Point), Kucherov has set himself apart from the pack. The current scoring leader is ahead in a race that could change drastically in the second half. If the Oilers somehow find a way to make the playoffs, does that help McDavid’s chances? What about Gibson if the Ducks manage a turnaround?

JAMES: With scoring growing like Super Mario post-mushroom, there’s a positively dizzying number of great options this year. When in doubt – and I’m very much in doubt – I ask myself the schoolyard sports question of “If I were picking teams, which player would be my first choice?” and McDavid comes up without a thought. He’s the best player in the world, and he’s producing at that level even as the Oilers let him down at every turn. Kucherov’s ridiculous in his own right, and Gibson is the clear No. 1 at the most game-changing position in the sport, so he deserves kudos in his own right.

ADAM: Kucherov has been the best offensive player in the league on the best offensive team, and Gaudreau is just behind him for a Calgary team that is the best team in the Western Conference. Both are among the games best and most exciting players and are as dominant as it gets. As for Gibson, well, it goes without saying: He is taking what should be a lottery team, maybe a bottom-five team, and keeping it in the playoff race.

JOEY: I realize that the Lightning are loaded with talent, but it’s important to note that Kucherov has five more points than any other player in the league right now. He led the league in scoring for a good chunk of last season, before he slowed down a little bit in the second of the year. We’ll see if he can keep this up. As for Gaudreau, no one expected the Flames to be this good this year and he’s a big reason why they’ve been able to exceed expectations. And what more can I say about Ovechkin? After winning the Stanley Cup last June, the Caps captain has managed to score 36 goals in just 40 games. That’s insane.

SCOTT: Would the Flames be where the Flames are if Gaudreau wasn’t playing there? I think not. Gaudreau isn’t far off Kucherov’s point pace and he’s not playing with Steven Stamkos or Brayden Point. Gaudreau has turned into a superstar this season and has done the most for his team. Wheeler, meanwhile, has been the gas that fuels Winnipeg’s power play, and he’s just behind the top spot in terms of assists.

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SEAN: If he hadn’t been injured in the past, Giordano may have one, maybe two Norris Trophies in his cabinet. He’s having his best offensive season at age 35 with 52 points in 49 games. His career high is 56 set back in 2015-16. He’s again a strong driver of possession and has posted a strong relative Corsi (5.23). With the play of Karlsson, Rielly and Brent Burns, the final voting come April could leave for a handful of worthy candidates.

JAMES: All three of these players just jump off the charts, along with a few other worthy defensemen (including John Carlson, whose defensive game is catching up to his prolific offense in exciting ways this season). Giordano somehow has more than a point-per-game in 2018-19 (52 points in 49 games heading into Wednesday), and remains an elite two-way presence. Letang’s somewhat quietly having an absolutely stellar year in his own right, and even a “slow start” for Karlsson keeps him in the discussion as a defensive demigod.

ADAM: These three have been pretty much in a class all to themselves this season. They are all elite scorers, they are all elite possession drivers, they are all elite when it comes to scoring chances for and against. The big omission here is probably Rielly, and he would probably be a very close fourth for me. Just think these three have been far and away the best all-around defenders in the league this season. I thought Karlsson’s early season struggles were a bit overblown because the underlying numbers were always there. Just took some time to get the points to go with it. Letang has had an amazing bounce back year and is back to being elite, and Giordano has just been sensational.

JOEY: Giordano is putting together a career-year at 35 years old. The Flames defender has 52 points in 49 games and he’s managed to put up a CF% of 55.66 percent, which is remarkable. Burns leads all defensemen in points, with 55, and he’s also a strong CF % of over 55 percent. Letang has had to overcome a lengthy injury history, but he’s put together quite the season for the Penguins. Hopefully he can continue to stay healthy.

SCOTT: Giordano is the other piece in the Flames’ puzzle that has been fantastic this season. Gaudreau is taking care of everything up front and Giordano, with his point-per-game pace, is getting business done on the blue line. Burns belongs here because the Norris often goes to the guy with the most points. Chabot belongs here because he’s making the most of playing on a bad team.


SEAN: Fourth in high-danger save percentage (.871), a .925 even strength save percentage, tops in goals saved above average (14.27) (a stat that shows many goals have been saved above a league-average netminder), and only one of two goaltenders who have faced at least 1,000 shots at 5-on-5. Imagine the Ducks without Gibson’s level of performance this season.

JAMES: Again, Gibson is incredible, and carrying the sort of workload that makes you worry that he might break down in the future. Lehner is the only goalie who matches Gibson’s outstanding 18 Goals Saved Against Average, and his case could get interesting as time goes on, especially if he works on his one relatively weak area (only 27 games played compared to Gibson’s 42), and Lehner has a ridiculous .931 save percentage. Andersen’s numbers are strong, and considering how often Toronto collapses defensively, he’s been an immensely valuable presence for Toronto. Could be some fascinating jockeying for finalist positions down the stretch.

ADAM: If you are a goalie that gets MVP consideration you are also probably in the Vezina discussion, or at the very top of it. This should be Gibson’s to lose at this point because he has clearly been the best goalie in the league this season. Andersen is the rare Toronto Maple Leafs player that is actually underrated. He plays a ton of minutes, has been mostly durable, and does it all at an above average level. There is a lot to be said for that. As for Lehner, well, he is one of the driving forces behind the Islanders climbing to first place.

JOEY: It’s a little strange to give my top Vezina vote to a goalie that lost 10 consecutive starts not too long ago, but Gibson has really been that good. He’s the only reason the Ducks are anywhere close to a playoff spot at this point. If they want to play deeper into April, they’ll need him to continue playing at a high level. Both Andersen and Vasilevskiy have missed some time with an injury, but they’ve been so consistent for most of the season.

SCOTT: Gibson, because the Ducks would be the worst team in the NHL without him. He’s just been spectacular despite very little run support. Fleury, meanwhile, is defying the laws of age as he puts up another ridiculous season. He leads the league in shutouts and is leading Vegas back to the promised land. Lehner could pip both of them if he continues as the hot hand in Long Island. He’s a huge reason why the Islanders are in first place in the Metropolitan.


SEAN: You knew there’d be some improvement with Trotz behind the bench, but this? Not a chance. The Metro leaders are better in all facets of the game this season.

JAMES: As much as I want to make a trendy/contrarian coaching pick, and as much of a red flag as the Isles’ goaltending is, how can we deny the work Trotz has done this year? It’s almost like the dude just won a Stanley Cup or something. Cooper’s team is loaded, but the Bolts are so far ahead of everyone else, it’s ridiculous, and that’s even with Andrei Vasilevskiy missing some time. It’s not just that the Canadiens are overachieving; the Habs are somehow a dominant possession team, and Julien has this group playing a relentless style that makes Montreal a headache many nights. You’d think Montreal’s only hope would be Carey Price wearing an S on his chest, but that S has really just stood for “solid” this season.

ADAM: I am probably the only person in hockey that does not have Trotz first, but I am taking a stand here. The Jack Adams is kind of a joke to me anymore because it never actually goes to the best coach or the best coaching job. It just gets given to the coach whose bad team from a year ago had the best goalie this season and surprisingly dragged them to a playoff spot. Now, that does not mean I am discounting the Trotz impact. He has been great and he is a great coach. He just is. He has been. He still is. He will continue to be. But here’s the thing: I think Peters has done a better job this season. Does he have more talent on his roster? Perhaps. But he is also coaching a team that was out of the playoffs last year and he has them playing at a level that is good enough to potentially compete for the Stanley Cup this season … with shaky goaltending. Are the Islanders, with great goaltending, at that level? Still not sure yet. But Peters and Trotz are the two top of this and Peters probably is not getting enough attention. Cooper just simply might be the best coach in hockey and will get punished in the voting because his team is *too* good.

JOEY: I realize that I’m not giving Cooper any love, but the three coaches I listed above have done a remarkable job in 2018-19. Nobody expected the Islanders to be leading the Metropolitan Division by three points heading into the All-Star break. Nobody. Trotz and his staff have done a great job getting their team organized defensively. As of right now, there’s a huge gap between him and the rest of the coaches on the ballot.

SCOTT: Trotz has revitalized the Islanders in a year where most would have guessed they would have struggled. Instead, the Islanders have quickly forgotten about John Tavares and worked themselves into the first spot in the Metro. That’s remarkable. Peters has turned the Flames into what appears to be a Cup contender, as well. Cooper gets here by default. The Lightning are a very good team.


SEAN: A winger? Yep. Stone is starting more in the defensive zone (51.8 percent) than he has in the last five years and even on a mediocre Senators team he’s putting up positive possession numbers (52.4 percent Corsi) while also recording a 12.7 Corsi-Relative, meaning Ottawa is directing nearly 13 more shots on goal when he’s on the ice compared to when he’s off.

JAMESSidney Crosby‘s possession numbers are so bonkers, it was really tempting to give him more Hart Trophy love. Seriously, scroll down to his possession metrics and note the ridiculous Corsi Relative number of 10.3%. That’s get-your-glasses-fixed stuff. The Selke voting leans toward two-way prowess rather than pure defense (sorry Mikko Koivu), and Crosby’s tilting the ice on an epic level. Barkov and Stone are splendid choices if 87 is too bold for your blood.

ADAMTatar is not going to win the Selke for a variety of reasons. First, he is a winger and wingers never win unless they are Jere Lehtinen. Also I am not sure anyone realizes just how good he has been. Among forwards that have played at least 600 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey this season Tatar is first in Corsi Percentage, third in scoring chance differential, 14th in high-danger scoring chance differential, and seventh in goal differential. He has been an all-around outstanding player this season. Crosby is still an elite offensive player and I think his defensive game has caught up to it. His line is doing everything for the Penguins at the moment. As for Marchand, I still think he is one of the best all-around players in the league and has been great this season. 

JOEY: This is very much a reputation award, but it’s tough to ignore the job Bergeron has done this season. Despite missing 15 games this season, the Bruins forward is on pace to score 83 points. Bergeron has controlled 56 percent of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice. Even at 33 years old, he’s still got it. It’s important to note that Crosby has also put up similar possession numbers this year. Both players could easily come away with the award this season.

SCOTT: Crosby is silly good again this season, which means he might finally win this award. He’s putting up his second-best season in terms of possession and his best season in terms of his relative Corsi at 10.64. That’s very good. Possession metrics and relative Corsi is also the reason why Tatar is on here. He’s having a splendid season in Montreal and deserves some recognition. Stone is just being Stone again. Even on a bad team, he continues to put up a point-per-game while suppressing offense from opponents.

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SEAN: A couple of injuries haven’t slowed the Canucks’ rookie. His 1.13 points per game average crushes the competition, with Brady Tkachuk (0.61) trailing far behind.

JAMES: Oh, no big deal, Pettersson’s just restored hope for the Vancouver Canucks. Heiskanen and Dahlin are neck-and-neck in a battle of beyond-their-years defensemen, with Heiskanen’s logging more than 23 minutes per game and Dahlin carrying a significant workload (almost 21) and having more all-around success. Somehow, both Heiskanen and Dahlin are still teens. You can feel old now.

ADAM: Simply put, it is Pettterson’s award. Heiskanen and Dahlin have been outstanding as teenage defenders, but Pettersson changes the entire outlook of the Canucks when he is on the ice.

JOEY: Pettersson is clearly head-and-shoulders above the rest of this rookie class. Despite missing 11 games due to injury, the Canucks rookie still leads the league in rookie scoring by an 18-point margin over Ottawa’s Colin White. The 20-year-old is a huge reason why Vancouver finds themselves in the middle of a playoff race, when most people expected them to be one of the worst teams in the league. This one’s easy.

SCOTT: Out of all of the awards, this is the one that is already sewn up. It doesn’t matter who second or third is, although Heiskanen and Dahlin are having solid seasons in their own right. But it’s Pettersson, who despite missing time on two separate occasions this season because of injury, has lit the NHL on fire in his first season.

(All numbers via Natural Stat Trick)

PHT Morning Skate: NHL trade deadline reactions

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

• Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas got most of his trade work done before the trade deadline. (Toronto Sun)

• The Vegas Golden Knights signed Nick Holden to a two-year contract extension on Monday. (Vegas Golden Knights)

• Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving tinkered with his lineup without giving much away. (Calgary Herald)

• The Pittsburgh Penguins did not add any defenseman on Monday but still need to figure out their defense pairings. (Pensburgh)

• The Montreal Canadiens failed to give their fans much clarity after a confusing trade deadline. (Sportsnet)

• The Edmonton Oilers added a ton of speed up front (Edmonton Journal)

• This trade deadline turned out to be uncharted territory for the Carolina Hurricanes. (Canes Country)

• The Buffalo Sabres players made their pleas on the ice and general manager Jason Botterill listened. (The Buffalo News)

• Despite some big rumors the Minnesota Wild stood pat at the trade deadline. (Star Tribune)

• Will Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort be enough to get the Calgar Flames in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? (The Hockey News)

• The Philadelphia Flyers tried to bolster their lines. (NBC Philadelphia)

• Ilya Kovalchuk is a low-risk spark for the Washington Capitals. (Japers’ Rink)

• The Rangers are finally back after wild NHL trade deadline. (New York Post)

• Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman looks to the future. (Chicago Tribune)

• Don Sweeney added depth and financial flexibility at the NHL trade deadline for the Boston Bruins (Bruins Daily)

• It was tough to for Ottawa Senators fans to see Jean-Gabriel Pageau go, but it was great to see the return. (Silver Seven Sens)

• After a quiet NHL trade deadline Winnipeg Jets fans are going to expect some movement this summer. (Winnipeg Free Press)

• The Buffalo Sabres were aggressive deals at the NHL trade deadlie. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

First-round picks not for rent on NHL trade deadline day

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Not many first-round picks were in play at the NHL trade deadline Monday, except for contenders picking up players for now and the future.

The New York Islanders traded a conditional first-round pick to Ottawa as part of their trade for center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Tampa Bay Lightning also parted with a first-rounder to get 26-year-old forward Barclay Goodrow from San Jose. The Carolina Hurricanes sent the New York Rangers a first round pick for 25-year-old defenseman Brady Skjei.

Goodrow has another year left on his contract, Skjei is signed for four seasons after this one and the Islanders locked up Pageau with a $30 million, six-year contract extension.

”He has signed an extension, and we’re delighted with that, especially with the age he’s at and what we feel he can bring,” Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said.

Tampa Bay also sent Vancouver’s first-round pick to New Jersey last week for Blake Coleman, and Boston gave up its first to get Ondrej Kase from Anaheim and shed David Backes’ contract. Other top teams were less willing to take that leap.

”I thought it was important that we kept our first-round pick,” said Washington Captials general manager Brian MacLellan, who traded a second-rounder, a third and a conditional third to get defenseman Brenden Dillon and winger Ilya Kovalchuk. ”I think if you want to add players at the deadline, you’ve got to spend seconds and thirds. And it’s whether you want to do the firsts.”


The Edmonton Oilers tried to give Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl some help by acquiring winger Andreas Athanasiou from Detroit and forward Tyler Ennis from Ottawa.

Edmonton sent 2020 and 2021 second-round picks and forward Sam Gagner to Detroit for Athanansiou, who’s a restricted free agent after this season. The Oilers also got winger Ryan Kuffner in the trade.

The Oilers got Ennis for a 2021 fifth-rounder and Sunday night acquired defenseman Mike Green from the Red Wings.

The Alberta rival Calgary Flames answered by getting defensemen Erik Gustafsson from Chicago and Derek Forbort from Los Angeles.


The Vegas Golden Knights got goaltender Robin Lehner from the Blackhawks in a three-team trade that also involved the Maple Leafs.

Vegas traded backup goalie Malcolm Subban, prospect Slava Demin and a 2020 second-round pick to Chicago for Lehner.

The popular Lehner said he was excited to be going to Vegas, tweeting: ”Going to be a ride. Can’t wait to get there.” He is expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury.

Toronto got a 2020 fifth-rounder for retaining part of Lehner’s salary and also sent prospect forward Martins Dzierkals to the Golden Knights.


The Buffalo Sabres bought and sold on deadline day, getting wingers Wayne Simmonds and Dominik Kahun in a pair of trades.

Buffalo dealt a conditional 2021 fifth-round pick to New Jersey for Simmonds, a pending free agent, and traded forwards Evan Rodrigues and Conor Sheary to Pittsburgh for Kahun. The 24-year-old Kahun has 10 goals and 17 assists for the Penguins this season.

Simmonds, 31, adds depth to Buffalo’s forward ranks. The Sabres have been looking for secondary scoring behind captain and leading scorer Jack Eichel.

Trades juice up arms race in deep Metropolitan Division

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The Metropolitan Division was already the deepest and most competitive in the NHL.

Now the race to the finish is getting juiced up.

Nearly every Metro contender made a move ahead of Monday’s trade deadline to gear up for the playoff push. The first-place Washington Capitals got it started by acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk, Pittsburgh answered by getting fellow veteran winger Patrick Marleau from San Jose and the New York Islanders got a major reinforcement in the form of center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who they signed to a $30 million, six-year extension.

And those teams weren’t alone. Carolina got immediate help by trading for forward Vincent Trocheck and defensemen Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen; Philadelphia made two depth forward moves by getting Derek Grant and Nate Thompson; and the Columbus Blue Jackets traded once-promising prospect Sonny Milano to Anaheim for forward Devin Shore.

Even the New York Rangers, whose recent hot streak put them within striking distance of a playoff position, kept forward Chris Kreider in the fold with a seven-year extension rather than dealing him away.

”Metro was pretty active,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. ”It is a tough division. Each team could beat the other team on any given night, you know, given good goaltending and I think every one of these teams thinks that they have a chance to come out of the Metro, which I believe they do.”

With seven teams in contention for four or five playoff spots, the arms race is on.

”I thought we were all pretty close going into it and now I think we’re all still close, only better teams,” MacLellan said. ”I think everybody did a good job in our division, and it’s going to be hard to get out of it.”

The Islanders traded conditional first- and third-round picks and a second to Ottawa for Pageau, who could be an ideal fit by adding offense. The Islanders rank 22nd in the league in goals per game, which probably won’t cut it when trying to compete with the high-scoring Capitals, Penguins and Flyers.

”You always have to wait and see,” Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said. ”Sometimes I’ve seen the smallest move make a major difference.”

Washington and Pittsburgh each spent only a third-round pick to get a veteran looking to win the Stanley Cup for the first time. Kovalchuk joins a potent attack led by fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Marleau will be a sentimental favorite with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

”Patrick is a player who can play anywhere in our lineup,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. ”He’s a good two-way player, provides leadership and will be a good fit with our team.”

Carolina paid the price of two roster players and two prospects for Trocheck, who has two more years left on his contract. Then, the Hurricanes strengthened their blue line amid injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce by getting Skjei and Vatanen.

GM Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers ”stuck to our plan” amid all the moves around the division.

Forwards Derek Grant and Nate Thompson are perfect for the Flyers’ mold as big, tough competitors who provide some needed depth. With Pageau’s price tag set so high, Philadelphia gave up only two fifth-round picks and a prospect to solve their need for centers and add size.

”They have always been a team that has had that confidence in the teams that they are hard to play against,” Thompson. ”Over the last few years, they have added speed and skill, but even their skilled guys are hard to play against and play with that snarl and I think that is something that you always think about when you play against the Flyers.”

Islanders bolstered with trade-deadline addition of Pageau

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NEW YORK (AP) — After standing pat at the trade deadline a year ago, New York Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello stressed that he didn’t believe in making a deal just to get a new player or two.

It had to be for the right players who would improve the team.

Lamoriello had the same message Monday after acquiring center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from Ottawa at this year’s deadline. The move came eight days after the addition of defenseman Andy Greene from New Jersey.

“I think the message to our players in both years is we believe in them and we will always try and make the team better,” Lamoriello said on a conference call.

“You have to be careful at the given time what the needs are and who the type of player is that you want in there and you target that. And if you don’t get that player, you don’t just make a move for the sake of doing it. Last year, we would have made a move if we could’ve gotten the player that maybe we felt could’ve added and not just been another player. Fortunately for us this year, we were able to get that player in that position.”

That’s a big step for an Islanders team that had frustrated some fans by failing to make significant moves at the deadline in recent years. However, when Lamoriello was hired in May 2018, he vowed to change the culture of a team that had missed the playoffs for the eighth time in 11 seasons.

He’s done just that.

Last season, the Islanders spent a big chunk of the season at the top of the Metropolitan Division before finishing second. They swept Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs when everything seemed to be going their way, then got swept by Carolina when they struggled to score.

This season, New York had a stellar start that featured a franchise-record 17-game point streak (15-0-2) before cooling off and shuffling between third place in the division and the Eastern Conference’s two wild cards in recent weeks – even briefly falling out of a playoff spot entirely.

“I’ve heard only good things about the Islanders,” said the 27-year-old Pageau, who agreed to a six-year, $30 million extension following the trade. “I couldn’t be more excited to go on a team that’s going to be competing every year for a playoff, for a championship. … As a player, that’s what we play for, that’s what drives us.”

While Greene was brought on to help a defensive unit that was weakened after Adam Pelech’s season-ending Achilles injury last month, Pageau bolsters the Islanders in the middle. He will likely center the third line behind Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson, with Casey Cizikas on the fourth line once he heals up after a laceration on his left leg.

Pageau comes to New York after putting up a career-high 24 goals and 40 points – just three shy of his best – in 60 games with Ottawa this season. He had four goals and five assists on the power play, and three goals and three assists short-handed.

“It solidifies down the middle for a good period of time,” Lamoriello said. “(Pageau) is a player who fits right in with who we are, the way we play and the style we play. I don’t think there will be much of an adjustment period for him. … I don’t think there were many people out there that could have filled this need, and we were fortunate to get one of them that could.”

Lamoriello wasn’t concerned that Pageau’s extension – which comes after the team re-signed captain Anders Lee and fellow forwards Nelson and Jordan Eberle to big deals last summer – would be a hindrance this summer when Barzal and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews are restricted free agents.

“We’ll worry about that when the time comes,” Lamoriello said. “We certainly have every intention of signing our restricted free agents.”

Pageau was expected to join the Islanders on Tuesday ahead of their home game against the rival New York Rangers, but both he and Lamoriello were unsure if all the paperwork would be filed and approved in time for the newcomer to make his debut.

“I know playing the Rangers is a big rivalry,” said Pageau, who had four goals against the Rangers in a 2017 playoff game. “Obviously it’d be an exciting start to play the game.”