The 2019-20 New Jersey Devils season has not gone the way anyone on the team expected it to. New Jersey fired head coach John Hynes and replaced him with interim coach Alain Nasreddine. When things did not change, the team made the move to fire general manager Ray Shero and replaced him with Tom Fitzgerald on an interim basis. The team also traded star winger, and 2018 Hart Trophy Winner, Taylor Hall. Through all this turmoil, the one constant has been Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri is a constant professional and plays a perfect style for the Devils and that is why the Devils need to keep him going long term.
Devils Need to Keep Kyle Palmieri
Ever since arriving in New Jersey in June of 2015, the New Jersey native was the most obvious choice for the New Jersey Devils decade team at right-wing. After being considered a second and third-line player with his previous team, Palmieri was promoted to a first-line role with the Devils. He was the scorer the Devils were looking for. In 363 games with the Devils, Palmieri recorded 249 points (132 goals and 117 assists). Even though Palmieri only hit the 30-goal mark once, he is averaging 26 goals per season. If you lose a player with that kind of production it will be hard to replace.
Palmieri Potentially Traded
That is why interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald decided not to pull the trigger at the NHL trade deadline to move the winger. As he told reporters after the trade deadline “Why would I trade a 30-goal scorer?” There were a lot of rumours heading into the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, that Palmieri would be traded from the Devils. However, Fitzgerald was not looking to shop the right-winger. While he was fielding offers on the New Jersey native unless the price was right, he was not going to pull the trigger.
“I told teams they need to come in and blow my socks off. No one did,” Fitzgerald told the media on trade deadline day. “I think everybody knew exactly how I felt about Kyle Palmieri and felt that I wasn’t gonna be bullied to move him.”
Unless the Devils were going full-on rebuild, there was no way the Devils needed to or should have traded Palmieri. While Palmieri could have gotten the Devils some really good prospects and picks, there was no one in the system that could fill that void in the lineup had he been traded. Not to mention, Palmieri has found a role on the Devils team.
Palmieri has gone from being an undervalued player to playing a prominent role on a team that is rebuilding. He has also become a leader in the locker room. With Devils building around future stars in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, it is ideal to have some veteran leadership. Palmieri can mentor these two young players not only on the ice but off the ice too. It is also ideal to have established NHL players on the team that is very young.
Priority This Off-Season
One of the priorities this off-season, whenever that is, is for the Devils to sign Palmieri to a long-term extension. He still has one year left on his contract as he will set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season. No doubt Palmieri will need a raise from his current salary of $5 million per year.
The Devils need to sign the NHL All-Star to a long-term extension. He is the exact type of player the Devils need. His shooting talent is so hard to replace. If you lose him, it is not going to be easy getting a player like Palmieri back in the fold. You maybe hope Nolan Foote can be that but that is no guarantee. The ideal contract could be in the range of 5-7 years at $6-$7 million a season. Anything over $7 million might be too much, but Palmieri has to be a part of the Devils going forward.
There is no doubt a young Devils team can benefit from keeping Palmieri around long-term. If the Devils sign Palmieri to a long-term extension, he will be in line to be the next captain of this Devils team.
The Devils need to do everything in their power to keep him as a member of the Devils. The New Jersey native has found a role with the Devils. He is the perfect player for Jersey’s team.
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