The New York Islanders acquired forward Kyle Palmieri and center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday in exchange for forward A.J. Greer, forward Mason Jobst, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Devils will retain half of both Palmieri’s $4.65 million cap hit and Zajac’s $5.75 million one.
The Islanders were in the market for a top-six forward after captain Anders Lee tore his ACL on March 11 against the Devils. He will miss the rest of the season.
Palmieri, 30, has recorded eight goals, 17 points, and a -2 rating in 34 games this season after scoring at least 24 goals and 44 points, respectively, in each of his first five seasons with the Devils. In 595 career regular-season games with the Devils and Anaheim Ducks, Palmieri has recorded 183 goals, 355 points, and an even rating. He has eight goals and 15 points in 38 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. The best season of his career came in 2015-16, when he set career-highs in goals (30) and points (57) in 82 games.
Zajac, 35, has posted seven goals, 18 points, and an even rating in 33 games this season. In 1024 career regular-season games, all with the Devils, he has 202 goals, 550 points, and a -19 rating. In 57 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Zajac has scored 11 goals and 28 points.
Travis Zajac, acquired by NYI, is an average middle six veteran centre, not a whole lot stands out here but should be fine. I guess Andy Greene worked well enough, why not try the forward version? #Isles pic.twitter.com/O0tdBbDm1F
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) April 7, 2021
With the additions, the Islanders’ offense improves after averaging 2.95 goals-per-game (14th in the NHL) through 39 games this season. Palmieri, who averaged 2:34 per game on the man advantage with the Devils (fourth on the team), should help an Islanders power-play that ranks 22nd with an 18.9% efficiency. The Islanders are currently tied for first in the East Division with the Washington Capitals as both teams have a 25-10-4 record.
Zajac, whose 2:23 average shorthanded ice time per game leads all Devils forwards, should help an Islanders’ penalty kill that ranks 11th with an 80.6% efficiency.
Greer, 24, has recorded a goal, two points, and a -12 rating in 10 games with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season and one goal, six points, and a -12 rating in 37 NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche. He has not played an NHL game since 2018-19.
Jobst, 27, has two assists and a -2 rating in six AHL games this season.
Palmieri and Zajac can both become unrestricted free agents after this season.
The Devils continue to rebuild as they are currently 14 points behind the Boston Bruins, who have a game in hand on them, for the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the East Division.
The Islanders now do not have any cap space ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 PM ET on Monday. The Devils have $43,538,945.
Condition on 4th RD pick in Isles-Devils deal:
Isles make SCF- 4th becomes 3rd in 2022 or 2023; New York has the option to decide on which of the 3rd round picks they transfer.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 8, 2021
By Harrison Brown