New Jersey Devils Trade Kyle Palmieri

Kyle Palmieri

The New Jersey Devils announced they have traded forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders in exchange for A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, the Islanders’ 2021 first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022.

The Devils are retaining 50 percent of both Palmieri’s and Zajac’s cap hits.

New Jersey Trades Kyle Palmieri

Palmieri had garnered some interest at the trade deadline, but acting general manager Tom Fitzgerald was reluctant to pull the trigger on a trade. And why would he trade away offence something the Devils desperately needed. However, with a year remaining left on his deal, the Devils had no choice but to trade their leading scorer. The 30-year-old Palmieri has been a solid contributor for the team in 2020-21. Palmieri is fifth on the team in scoring with four goals and 11 points in 23 games. His per-game scoring rate has fallen slightly from what it was in the last several years, but it is still a healthy .48 per contest. Palmieri was on pace to match or even surpass 30 goals last season before the pause came. His current career-best is 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games in 2015-16.

Palmieri was traded to the Devils in June of 2015 after he was originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks 26th overall in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft. He has really blossomed in New Jersey with no fewer than 40 points in his five seasons with the organization. He also has a team-friendly contract that counts just $4.65 million towards the salary cap through 2020-21. The team needed someone to take over after Taylor Hall was traded and Palmieri has done just that at times.

Travis Zajac

This was difficult for Zajac and the Devils to do. He had a no-trade clause, so he had to agree to waive it to be traded. There was a chance Zajac could be traded last season. However, Zajac did not want to waive his no-trade clause to go to any team. It had to be the right situation. And this year it was the right situation. The Devils originally selected Zajac in the first round, 20th overall in the 2004 NHL Draft. He had success early on playing alongside Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner as part of the ZZPops line.

The only thing missing from Zajac’s trophy case is a Stanley Cup. Hence why he was traded to the Islanders. General manager Lou Lamoriello knows him so well. He will fit in nicely on the team’s third line. While he cannot play second-line minutes anymore, however, when a crucial faceoff is needed, Zajac is the man to take it. He is one of the best in the league at taking faceoffs. Not to mention, he is a leader on and off the ice. In addition to his faceoff skills, Zajac is a very good penalty killer. Something every team needs during the stretch to the playoffs and beyond.

What This Means for the Future

There was some hope the Devils could sign Palmieri to a long-term extension, but unfortunately, the two sides could not reach a deal. Instead, the Devils continued to shed salary and veteran talent in exchange for prospects and get a younger feel. They moved Blake Coleman, Sami Vatanen, and Andy Greene at the trade deadline last year. The team will rely more on promising young players like Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes as they head into the future.

Palmieri won’t have as much freedom on his new team but he will add a scoring punch for any team that needs depth scoring. His contract also does not prevent his current front office from chasing a big free agent in the offseason. Palmieri might miss being the star but he won’t miss the losing.

Main Photo:

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