Kyle Palmieri Relishing Top-Six Opportunity

New Jersey native Kyle Palmieri is making the most of his opportunity to play in the Devils top-six, and is not only producing, but also showing flashes of puck skills that Devil fans haven’t been very accustom too over the past couple of years. Palmieri does a lot of little things with the puck in open ice, like toe-drags, and being able to get around players, where Devil fans have seen players do the classic dump and chase. That strategy is nice to an extent, but there’s it’s exciting to see NHL players making sweet moves with the puck, and Palmieri has the ability to do that. Palmieri is showing why he was selected in the first round (26th overall) in 2009, and it was a matter of him not having an opportunity to flourish with the Anaheim Ducks.

Palmieri Earning His Ice Time

Playing on the Devils can have its perks if you catch my drift. For instance, Palmieri isn’t the only player on the Devils who is reaping the benefit of playing in a top-six role, while averaging between 18-20 minutes a night. Lee Stempniak was the last player on my radar who I thought would now be playing on the first line along Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique. They have definitely gelled since being put together, but it was Stempniak’s effort that earned him a chance to play with those players.

What it has come down to for both Stempniak and Palmieri is that they have put in more effort, which is exactly what head coach John Hynes wasn’t to see out of his players. At the start of the season, Jiri Tlusty was given the first line role because he’s a player who has a history of being able to put the puck n the net like a sniper, along with a bit of Jordan Tootoo, but now its become a scenario where Hynes is gunning for chemistry instead of pure skill. That’s where Stempniak and Palmieri are getting more ice time in key situations, because they have gelled with their line mates, and are producing is all facets of the game.

Focusing on Palmieri though; he’s playing with Travis Zajac, who has become on hottest player on the team, and the aforementioned Tlusty. Playing with those two players have helped Palmieri a lot, as even though Zajac is more of a defensive player at heart, he’s scoring goals, and then Palmieri is working off the skills of Tlusty.

It makes for a great combination, and to have a consistently productive second line is something the Devils haven’t really had over the past couple of season because Peter DeBoer would constantly mix up his lines. Hynes is looking for chemistry to stick for a long as possible, and when he finds something that sticks, like he’s found now, I don’t believe he will break that up anytime soon.

Palmieri Is Becoming a Fan Favorite

Palmieri is slowly turning into the type of guy that Devil fans could latch onto. When Henrique broke out during the 2012 season, it was like wide fire with fans because he was such a producing in clutch spots with the absence of Zajac due to an Achilles tear. Sure, it helped that he was playing with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk on his wings, but when he was put in that spot, he succeed, and now Henrique a core leader on this team, and it’s best young player.

Palmieri can be the same thing, except to probably a lesser extent, but still somebody will the Devils can use a lot of their marketing around. He’s a guy who grew up in New Jersey, he played Devils youth hockey club, the USA hockey national team development program, and he played college hockey at Notre Dame.

The Devils organization is all about trying to emphasize ‘New Jersey’, and what it means to be a part of this state. Bringing in Palmieri could be the best marketing ploy they have even done under this new ownership because he’s not some sales person selling tickets, or employee serving you food at a game, he’s out on the ice producing, and that’s what the fans what to see.

Subscribe to our Devils stories to get email updates every time a new story is published.

Corey Spina is a New Jersey Devils staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @CSpinaTHW.