Editor’s Note: There are more details forthcoming and the article will be updated accordingly
At the conclusion of the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Ray Shero made his first trade as General Manager of the New Jersey Devils by acquiring Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks for the 41st pick in the 2015 draft and a 2016 3rd rounder. The 24-year-old Montvale, NJ native had 14 goals and 15 assists in 57 games for the Anaheim Ducks in 2014-15. The right winger also comes cheap to New Jersey financially, with a cap hit of $1,466,666 in 2015-16 before he is set to become a Restricted Free Agent around this time next year.
Palmieri stands at 5’11” and weighs in at 196lbs, per the NHL’s website. He is also a former first round pick himself, being selected 26th overall by the Ducks in 2009. With Anaheim, Palmieri wore #21, which was worn by current UFA Scott Gomez this past season. If Gomez is re-signed, one of those two will have a number change.
Palmieri has been a quality player for the Ducks, but has had trouble cracking big minutes due to their depth upfront (which also reflects his lack of points last season). He was a solid possession player for Anaheim in 2014-15 at 51.1%. Also of note is his scoring at even strength. Of the 28 goals Palmieri has scored the last two seasons, 21 of them have come at even strength. The Devils were the 3rd worst scoring team at 5v5 last season, so he would provide an immediate boost in that aspect.
The winger suffered a leg and shoulder injuries last season that had him miss 25 games. There have been no concerns that his injuries could affect his play going forward.
Palmieri fills a glaring need for the Devils in a couple spots. First and foremost, he fills a scoring need for the Devils up front. Had Palmieri played a full 82 game season this past season, he would’ve been right on pace for a 20-21 goal season along with 41 points. The Devils don’t have a young established scoring forward right now and Palmieri definitely fills that void. The Devils also have only one right winger under contract for next season (Jordin Tootoo), so Palmieri also adds depth to that position as well. Paul Thompson, who lit up the AHL with the Albany Devils last season, will also be re-signed come July 1 and is likely to compete for a roster spot in New Jersey. That gives the Devils three right wingers soon-to-be under contract for next year.
Ray Shero and John Hynes said they want the team to be fast, attacking, and supportive. Adding Kyle Palmieri, who played under Hynes in the U.S. National Development Team Program, to the mix definitely helps bring the Devils closer to reaching that goal. In what was an active night in the trade market, the Devils did not come away empty handed and made a trade that makes the team a bit younger and a bit better. After drafting Pavel Zacha with 6th pick, it’s safe to say that Ray Shero is off to a good start as GM of the New Jersey Devils.