Kyle Palmieri has been on the radar of several teams in recent weeks ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. Wednesday night, the New York Islanders acquired Palmieri and center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, the Islanders first-round pick in 2021, and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022. New Jersey also agreed to retain 50-percent of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salaries.
It was just a matter of time before the Devils moved Palmieri after five seasons in New Jersey. The Islanders were not the only team interested in the 26th selection in the first round of the 2009 Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Several teams were in touch with Devils Executive Vice President and general manager Tom Fitzgerald, but the Islanders, who were expected to very aggressive at the trade deadline, ended up Palmieri five days before Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
Palmieri Is Added Forward Depth
Palmieri and the Devils had been in negations on a contract extension, but Sunday New Jersey pulled him from the lineup ahead of their game with the Washington Capitals in anticipation of a trade. Palmieri is in the final year of a five-year, $23.25 million deal that carries a $4.65 million cap hit. He will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. Zajac, who waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the trade, is in the final year of an eight-year, $46 million contract that carries a $5.75 cap hit and he will also be an unrestricted free agent following the season.
This season, in 34 games, Palmieri has eight goals and nine assists. At 30 years old, the 11-year veteran brings added goal-scoring depth to the Islanders, who are currently tied for first place with the Capitals in the MassMutual East Division, for the remainder of the regular season and the postseason. He also is added insurance to the power play. In five of the last six seasons, he has collected at least 11 power play goals for the Devils. The 35-year-old Zajac has seven goals and 11 assists in 33 games this season and has played his entire 15-year career in New Jersey since being drafted 20th overall in the 2004 Entry Draft.
In mid-March, the Islanders announced that Andes Lee would be out the rest of the season with an ACL injury, which was a big loss. They placed him on long-term injured reserve, which gave them cap flexibility to add Palmieri and Zajac.
Devils Fire Sale Begins
Another trade deadline, another round of trades for the rebuilding Devils begins. At last seasons trade deadline, the Devils traded Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes, Wayne Simonds to the Buffalo Sabres, Louis Domingue to the Vancouver Canucks, Andy Green to the Islanders, and Blake Coleman to the Tama Bay Lightning. In those five deals, New Jersey received four draft picks to use as part of their rebuilding phase.
The Devils still have some more pieces that still could be moved and their dealing may not be done. New Jersey is clearly looking toward the future with new coach Lindy Ruff and building around young star Jack Hughes.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.