As we approach the NHL Trade Deadline, there is a lot of buzz about who the Islanders will be looking to add. Of all the names presumed to be available, there is one in particular that should be the top of Lou Lamoriello’s list: Kyle Palmieri.
The Devils’ 30-year-old winger has been a consistent 20+ goal scorer since getting to Newark in 2015. He has also cracked 50-point plateau in three of his five seasons there. He possesses a shot that is dangerous from anywhere on the ice.
Palmieri isn’t just a dangerous shot though; he would be a perfect fit for the Isles’ system.
The Long Island native is one of the better defensive wingers in hockey, and we all know how much Barry Trotz loves two-way forwards who play the game right. A veteran winger, Palmieri would also could be an asset to both special teams units, in particular the 20th ranked power play the Isles currently have. Beyond his special teams’ ability, Palms can play anywhere across the top three lines. It’s that sort of flexibility that makes him so valuable to an Islanders roster in need of depth.
The acquisition of Palmieri would have a cap hit of about $4.65M. With captain Anders Lee being placed on LTIR, the Isles would still have about $2.35M in cap space for Lamoriello to acquire another piece at the deadline. Think a depth defenseman or another wing to add depth to the third line.
There’s been uncertainty around Palmieri’s future in New Jersey which would make acquiring him even more intriguing. The Devils as of this writing, look as if they are going to miss the postseason for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. Plus, they are still in a forever rebuild that has continued now under new g.m. Tom Fitzgerald. Last month, Corey Masisak, the Devils’ beat writer for The Athletic spoke with both Palmieri and Fitzgerald, and the likelihood of Palmieri sticking around was still in question. Then last week, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun added fire to the flame saying the team and Palmieri’s camp were “struggling to find common ground on a contract”.
Palmieri would almost certainly be a rental. Given the current and projected cap situation of the Islanders, that is most likely what Lamoriello is looking for, as players with term would put the team in dire straits this offseason.
When scouring the trade market, a rental like Palmieri won’t be cheap, but he will be cheaper than some of the other big names. The Isles being able to retain key prospects and/or their first-round pick could be critical come the Seattle expansion draft.
It is true, Palmieri has been having a down year. The Devils as a whole have been struggling and not one player has cracked 20 points yet. No disrespect to Jack Hughes, but being added to a contender with the likes of Mat Barzal, it would be hard to imagine we don’t see the best of Palmieri. Not to mention he may be heating up with goals in consecutive games.
Something Islander fans need to keep in mind heading into the deadline is, that the Islanders won’t be able to simply replace Lee. Palmieri for example is well shorter and lighter than their captain. He won’t play the same type of game. But what he does bring to Long Island is a pedigree for scoring goals, gritty defensive wing play and the kind of line-mate Barzal deserves.
Although Long Island is not known for palm trees, the addition of Kyle “Palms” Palmieri could have the Islanders vacationing with Lord Stanley this summer.
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryandunni