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Kyle Palmieri Named to Team USA for World Cup

Due to hip surgery performed in late June, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan will be out for up to five months, causing him to miss his chance to represent his Team USA at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey this September in Toronto. The 31-year old will be replaced by and up and coming scorer in the League, Kyle Palmieri, property of the New Jersey Devils.

After playing second and third fiddle to guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Teemu Selanne in Anaheim, the 25-year old Palmieri finally had an opportunity to prove himself as a true top six winger in New Jersey this past season. Receiving a 3:42 increase in average ice time from 2014-15 (17:48), he exploded and set career highs in goals (30), points (57), and shots (222) to lead the Devils in scoring in his first season with the club. Keep in mind that the Devils were the worst offensive team in the game (182 goals) and had just five double digit goal scorers and five 35+ point-getters. This netted Palmieri a lucrative new contract he signed on the 8th that will pay him $4.65 million per season over the next five seasons.

Palmieri was among the top-20 league-wide in power play performance scoring 11 goals (T-12th) and 23 points (T-19th) on the 9th-best unit in the League (20%). The pride of Smithtown, New York scored 22% of the Devils’ man advantage tallies forming a formidable trio with Adam Henrique (30 goals, 50 points) and Mike Cammalleri for half of the season before the latter’s season was decimated by injuries (38 points in 42 games).

The Syracuse Crunch graduate brings quite a strong international pedigree from the World Juniors and the springtime’s World Championships. In 33 games representing the US at four different levels, he’s scored nine goals and 26 points, doing most of his damage at the U-20 level for the World Junior team capturing the program’s first ever Gold Medal in 2010 and netting a bronze the following year. In 13 WJC games, he scored three goals and 15 points. A great performance in the World Cup will definitely put him in the conversation for future World Cup and Olympic Rosters. He will be joining a forward group that includes Blake Wheeler (26 goals, 78 points for Winnipeg), Joe Pavelski (38 goals, 78 points for San Jose),  Hart Trophy Winner Patrick Kane (46 goals, 106 points for Chicago), and Zach Parise (25 goals, 53 points for Minnesota).

If there’s one thing to knock the former Notre Dame product for, it’s his possession numbers, coming in at 45.6% CF% in 2015-16, over a 5% decline from the previous season. For one, he did not play in the best possession system in New Jersey, as they were 29th in the League in terms of team CF% (46.15%). This mostly stemmed from the fact that the team doesn’t have a dynamic puck mover from the back-end, a defensive core that posted a 45.4% combined CF% this past season and had its highest scorer, Damon Severson, post just 21 points.

Palmieri himself has also never been a special CF% in his career, posting a 48% mark in 280 career contests. As the team grows its defense and adds depth to its forward group, these individual numbers should increase as the team builds. With the team acquiring recent Stanley Cup Champion defenseman Ben Lovejoy and bonafide superstar Taylor Hall this offseason to go along with 2015 6th overall pick Pavel Zacha possibly cracking the starting lineup, these changes are already evident.

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