The first shoe in the NHL trade deadline season of 2021 has fallen. Wednesday night, the New York Islanders made a big splash by landing Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils in a four-player trade that also includes two move choices.
In return for Palmieri and Zajac, New Jersey strikers AJ Greer and Mason Jobst get the Islanders first round in 2021 and a conditional fourth round in the 2022 NHL draft. If the Islanders make the Stanley Cup final, the fourth round will be a third round in 2022 or 2023. (New York chooses which year if the conditional election is triggered.)
As part of the deal, the Devils will also keep 50 percent of Palmieri’s and Zajac’s salary.
The deal gives the Isles some necessary scoring help on the wing after losing Anders Lee to season-ending injury. Palmieri was to help make up for the loss of Lee as he was one of the league’s more effective goal scorers before experiencing a downturn in New Jersey this season. He has just eight goals and 17 points in 34 games played this season, but Palmieri has scored over 20 goals in each of the last five full seasons with the Devils, averaging 132 goals from 2015-2020 (averaging 26.4 goals per year).
Putting Palmieri into the Islanders lineup, perhs next to Mat Barzal on the top line, should make them more dangerous at the offensive end. The islands, currently tied with the Citals for the Eastern Division, place as 14th in the league in goals per. Kamp (2.95).
Meanwhile, Zajac gives New York another veteran who can add their depth. The 35-year-old veteran has seven goals and 18 points this season. The 20th overall election in 2004, Zajac, is a draft of former Devils manager Lou Lamoriello, who now serves as general manager of the Islanders.
Both Palmieri and Zajac are currently in the final year of their contracts.
Lamoriello’s aggressiveness ahead of this year’s deadline signals that the Islanders are all-in to get another deep playoff run this season. New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last year before being eliminated by eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.