Islanders land Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in deal with Devils


The first shoe of the 2021 NHL trade deadline season has dropped. On Wednesday night, the New York Islanders made a big splash by landing Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in a four-player trade that also includes two draft picks. 

In exchange for Palmieri and Zajac, New Jersey gets forwards A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst, the Islanders first round pick in 2021 and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. If the Islanders make the Stanley Cup Final, the fourth-round pick becomes a third-rounder in 2022 or 2023. (New York chooses which year if the conditional pick is triggered.)

As part of the deal, the Devils will also retain 50 percent of Palmieri’s and Zajac’s salaries.

The trade provides the Isles with some needed scoring help on the wing after losing Anders Lee to season-ending injury. Palmieri should help offset the loss of Lee, as he was one of the league’s more efficient scorers before experiencing a down year in New Jersey this season. He has just eight goals and 17 points in 34 games played this season, but Palmieri scored over 20 goals in each of the last five full seasons with the Devils, racking up 132 goals from 2015-2020 (average of 26.4 goals per year).

Slotting Palmieri into the Islanders lineup, perhaps beside Mat Barzal on the top line, should make them more dangerous in the offensive end. The Isles, currently tied with the Capitals for the East division lead, rank 14th in the league in goals per game (2.95). 

Meanwhile, Zajac gives New York another veteran to add to their depth. The 35-year-old veteran has seven goals and 18 points this season. The 20th overall pick in 2004, Zajac is a draft pick of former Devils manager Lou Lamoriello, who now serves as general manager of the Islanders.

Both Palmieri and Zajac are currently on the final year of their contracts.

Lamoriello’s aggressiveness ahead of this year’s deadline signals that the Islanders are all-in to make another deep playoff run this season. New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last year before being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

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