The New York Islanders were rumored to be big swingers before the 2021 NHL trade deadline and they made their move on Wednesday. The Islanders have acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forwards AJ Greer, Mason Jobst, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. In addition, New Jersey agrees to retain 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salaries.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the fourth round pick becomes a third rounder in 2022 or 2023 if the Islanders make the finals with New York having the option of choosing which pick to send.
Multiple teams had interest in Palmieri including the likes of Boston and Toronto, among others, but the Islanders had to find a way to replace the loss of Anders Lee to an injury. The first-round pick and the rest of the package is likely what got the deal done and the Islanders were willing to pay the price and had the money to do so. The Isles were also rumored to be in on a player like Taylor Hall, but Palmieri was deemed their player of interest and GM Lou Lamoriello made a major trade before the action really started to pick up ahead of April 12th.
Palmieri and the Devils had been in negations on a contract extension but things fell apart last week. He was being held out of the lineup until a trade could be made and it was a matter of when, not if.
It will be interesting to see how social media reacts to the deal. Some will say Palmieri wasn’t worth a first-round pick and that Zajac doesn’t offer much on the Islanders roster. Others will argue Palmieri is the perfect fit considering their needs and that the Devils retained half of each player’s salary was an astute move.
It’s hard to know what the game plan will be for Zajac on the Islanders roster. Now 35, he leaves the Devils after spending his entire 15-year career with the club. New Jersey drafted him in the first round of the 2004 draft and Zajac had scored 550 points in 1024 games with the organization.
The Islanders now have $3.1 million of Annual Cap Space remaining in their LTIR Pool w/ 23 active players (+1 on IR).
Does This Set Some Sort of Trade Market?
The Buffalo Sabres are rumored to want a 1st-round pick and a prospect for Taylor Hall (and likely retaining 50% of his deal)… Does the NYI/NJ deal set the market now? Does the fact that Palmieri fetched a first increase the odds that the Sabres will get one too?
Some will say no since Hall only has two goals and the first went to the Devils for two capable players. Some will say yes because Hall is better than his totals this season suggest.
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