5 Potential Trade Destinations for New Jersey Devils Winger Kyle Palmieri
With the NHL's April 12 trade deadline drawing closer, speculation is growing over who could move. New Jersey Devils right winger Kyle Palmieri is one of the notable players garnering attention in the rumor mill. He's among the top 10 on TSN's Trade Bait List and The Athletic's NHL Trade Deadline Big Board.
Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in 2015, Palmieri has been the Devils' most consistent offensive forward. From 2015-16 to 2019-20, he was their leading scorer in all but one season (2017-18), tallying at least 24 goals each year. He also led them in total scoring during that period with 132 goals and 249 points.
The 30-year-old's production is down this season with six goals and 15 points in 29 games, but that could be reflective of the Devils' low overall production. A speedy, energetic forward, he's fourth among their scorers, just three points behind leader Pavel Zacha.
Palmieri is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. His annual average salary has been $4.65 million since 2016-17. He could seek a substantial raise on his next contract.
On March 16, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Palmieri and the Devils are discussing his future, though it doesn't appear anything is imminent. General manager Tom Fitzgerald could entertain offers for the veteran winger if they fail to reach an agreement on an extension before the trade deadline.
Contenders seeking a top-six winger with speed, offensive skills and leadership could pursue Palmieri if he's available.
Here's a look at five potential destinations.
A Stanley Cup finalist in 2019 and last season's winner of the Presidents' Trophy, the Boston Bruins are clinging to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. General manager Don Sweeney could consider a foray into the trade market for a winger such as Palmieri to bolster his offensive depth.
Secondary scoring is the Bruins' main concern. They lack punch beyond their first line of center Patrice Bergeron and wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. They were ninth last season in goals per game (3.24) but have slipped to 21st (2.68) this year.
Palmieri could be among the rental forwards on Sweeney's radar. His energetic style of play and scoring consistency would be a good fit alongside playmaking center David Krejci on the Bruins' second line.
Meeting the Devils' asking price won't be easy. The Bruins don't have as many tradable assets in terms of draft picks and prospects compared to other clubs on this list. They likely won't give up a struggling but still promising player like Jake DeBrusk for a rental. The Devils could seek a first- or second-round pick and perhaps a youngster such as Jack Studnicka in return.
The Calgary Flames got a brief lift earlier in March by bringing back Darryl Sutter as head coach. But after winning four of their first five games under Sutter, they dropped their next three to Toronto and Ottawa, managing just two goals. Stuck in sixth place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames need on-ice help to secure a playoff spot.
On March 4, TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Flames general manager Brad Treliving was on the hunt for a right winger with a right-handed shot. They've moved Elias Lindholm from right wing to center, but that's left a big gap on the right side. The team is using Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett as its top-three right wingers, but they aren't reliable scorers.
Palmieri could be just what Treliving seeks. He could skate on their first line with Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk or their second line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. He could also provide a boost to a Flames power-play percentage (19.7) that's sitting 18th.
Treliving could prefer acquiring someone before the end of March. That's because of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for players coming from American teams into Canada, though CBC reporter David Cochrane cited a Canadian federal government source indicating it's poised to reduce that period to seven days, which TSN's Darren Dreger confirmed.
The Flames GM could ask the Devils to absorb part of Palmieri's cap hit to make the dollars fit. He could also offer Bennett in return. On Jan. 30, Friedman reported Bennett's agent said the 24-year-old forward might appreciate a change of scenery. He'll be a restricted free agent this summer, which would give the Devils an opportunity to re-sign him.
The Florida Panthers are jockeying with the Carolina Hurricanes for second place in the Discover Central Division. While their playoff hopes look good, acquiring an additional top-six forward could improve their chances of clinching a berth and staging a deep playoff run.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Patric Hornqvist are the Panthers' most reliable scoring wingers. Anthony Duclair has excellent speed, but his offense can be streaky. Carter Verhaeghe is enjoying a fine sophomore campaign (24 points in 32 games), but he hasn't fully established himself as a reliable scorer.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito did a fine job of retooling his lineup in the offseason but could seek extra firepower at the trade deadline. The Panthers GM might be reluctant to part with a first-rounder for a rental player, but perhaps he could tempt the Devils with a second-rounder and a prospect such as Grigori Denisenko or Aleksi Heponiemi.
Palmieri could be a good addition for the Panthers. He has a track record as a scorer, and his ability to play on either wing would bring additional flexibility to their lineup. With $15.7 million in trade deadline cap space, they aren't as hampered by salary-cap limitations as most teams on this list.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders' top line suffered a serious blow when team captain Anders Lee suffered a season-ending knee injury on March 11. They placed the 30-year-old left winger and his $7 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve, helping to give them $8.09 million of total cap relief to put toward adding a replacement.
On March 20, Newsday's Andrew Gross wondered whether Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would pursue Palmieri. He pointed out the winger's offensive consistency over the past five seasons, believing his hard-edged style would fit well into head coach Barry Trotz's system.
Palmieri is a right winger but can also play on the left side. He could see a big boost in his goal scoring while skating alongside a gifted playmaker like center Mathew Barzal.
On March 22, NHL.com's Dan Rosen suggested Palmieri was among several notable rental players who could cost a high draft pick and a top prospect to acquire. Lamoriello probably won't part with a first-rounder, but he has the Colorado Avalanche's second-round pick in 2021 and two second-rounders in the 2022 draft to use as trade bait. He could also offer a young forward such as Kieffer Bellows.
Toronto Maple Leafs
On March 16, TSN's Kristen Shilton reported that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is willing to part with a top prospect to improve his club before the trade deadline. He also indicated most of his trade discussions have "focused on forwards."
Dubas added he would prefer to make a move well before the deadline because of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for U.S.-based players traveling into Canada. However, the Canadian government is reportedly poised to reduce that period to seven days. Salary-cap space is another concern, as they have $1.3 million in trade deadline cap room.
Shilton's colleague Pierre LeBrun speculated a rental player such as Palmieri could be among Dubas' trade targets. The Leafs could use reliable scoring depth at left wing. They've got the 41-year-old Joe Thornton and an inconsistent Alex Galchenyuk filling two of those spots.
Palmieri's offensive skills and ability to play either wing could make him a suitable addition, and Dubas' willingness to part with a top prospect could be attractive to the Devils.
The Leafs GM could also ask the Devils to pick up part of Palmieri's cap hit. Failing that, Dubas could part with something else to make the dollars fit. Forward Alex Kerfoot could entice the Devils. He's in the second year of a four-year deal, which carries an affordable $3.5 million annual average value.