NHL scouts keeping a close eye on top prospect Sean Couturier in the 2011 QMJHL playoffs didn't get a chance to watch him for long as they would have liked. Couturier and the Drummondville Voltigeurs were defeated in the second round by the Gatineau Olympiques, and the play of Jean-Gabriel Pageau was one of the primary reasons. A couple of months later, the Flyers made Couturier the eighth overall pick in the NHL draft, five spots behind Jonathan Huberdeau who, as a member of the Saint John Sea Dogs, also had his hands full with Pageau in those playoffs. The Senators harkened back to Pageau's post-season play when it was time for them to use their fourth round pick at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Finally, they overlooked his 5-foot-9, 165-pound stature and chose the Ottawa native, who grew up in Hull, with the 96th overall pick. Particularly excited about the selection was director of player personnel Pierre Dorion, who promised Pageau would be a diamond in the rough. "We had success against them, but I don't think I was alone in that," Pageau said when asked about his playoff series against Couturier and the Voltigeurs before making his NHL debut in Philadelphia this week. "I had a team behind me. It was a real good series and he was a real good player. We ended up winning that series and I think that gives me a little bit of confidence, if I play against him." Pageau not only shared the same ice as Couturier again, but he won the battle Thursday. He had 11:17 of ice time, an assist, one hit and a 56% faceoff winning percentage in the 3-1 victory. The 6-foot-3 Couturier was held pointless in 15:49 of ice time, recording no hits but three shots on goal and had a 62% success rate in the circles. The next night was even better for Pageau, as he scored his first NHL goal in 12:52 of work against the New Jersey Devils. His faceoff success dropped to 44% -- not terrible but also not something that will sit well with him. "I try real hard to win every faceoff," said Pageau. "Every faceoff is a battle and I don't like to lose a battle." Pageau's tale is another feel-good chapter in the story the 2012-2013 Senators, a team reduced to an underdog role by an abnormal number of key injuries. His goal at the start of this, his first pro season, was to make the Binghamton roster. When he did, it was as a fourth liner who wound up with fellow Ottawa product Corey Cowick. Pageau didn't score his first goal with Bingo until his 22nd game, but coach Luke Richardson elevated both him and Cowick to fill the rolls of the promoted. "Luke helped me a lot, he gave me really good tips all year long," said Pageau. "He helped me defensively and offensively, and I think that's helped my game a lot." Pageau was called up to Ottawa when coach Paul MacLean was looking for something he felt veterans Peter Regin and Jim O'Brien weren't giving him. Pageau said the players made him feel welcome, which helped him get over his "stress" of his first NHL game.
Senators rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau earns longer look with solid start
Ottawa Sun | Apr 14