The New York Islanders have acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2021 1st round pick, a 2022 conditional 4th round pick, and forwards AJ Greer and Mason Jobst. The 4th round pick becomes a 2022 3rd rounder if the Islanders advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. New Jersey also retained 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac\’s salary.
The Islanders had some forward holes before and after captain Anders Lee\’s season ending injury, but they are all gone now. Palmieri is the big prize here, although he is having a down season. His 9.5 shooting percentage is his lowest since 2013-14. Palmieri scored a minimum of 24 goals and a max of 30 from 2015-16 to 2019-20, and was an elite power play presence for the Devils. He had exactly 11 power play goals in each of the past three seasons, but has netted just one so far this year. He is a right-handed shot, but could still fill in for Lee on the top left wing role. Palmieri could also move down to the second line if the Isles want to keep him on the right wing. He was born in Smithtown, which is on Long Island. Zajac is a veteran who mainly plays center, but could move to the wing, as the Islanders have an open spot on the third line at left wing. He provides center depth in case a center goes down, like Casey Cizikas did on the postseason last year. Zajac actually has more points than Palmieri this year, but that is because of an absurd 20.6 shooting percentage. His 34 shots in 33 games will not be good enough. Zajac also has a 53.7 faceoff percentage in his career. Of course, both players were Devils when Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello was in New Jersey, but only Zajac actually played a game under Lou (he played quite a few games, actually). They will reunite with Andy Greene and Cory Schneider, former longtime Devils who have recently joined New York. A first round pick is steep in a buyers\’ market, but that is a little bit more than what Palmieri would have cost, and then you throw in Zajac. The 4th is an extra pick, while Jobst and Greer are to offset the contracts. Both players will be free agents at the end of the season, and after salary retention, New York has about $3.1 million left in cap space.
Palmieri, 30, has scored eight goals with nine assists for 17 points in 34 games in 2020-21. In his NHL career for the Devils and Anaheim Ducks Palmieri has scored 183 goals with 172 assists for 355 points in 595 games.
Zajac, 35, has scored seven goals with 11 assists for 18 points in 33 games for New Jersey this year. In his NHL career, all with the Devils Zajac has scored 202 goals with 348 assists for 550 points in 1024 games.
This may hurt for Devils fans. Palmieri was one of the team\’s best players, and by far their best winger. And Zajac was the team\’s longest tenured player after they traded Greene at last year\’s deadline, and he played over 1000 games and 15 seasons for the club. But, both were pending UFAs, and they eat some money to potentially get a better return, which could explain the conditional 4th rounder. The first is obviously the key here, as it helps them continue with their long going rebuild, although at this point the pick looks to be late in the first round. The Devils do not get much more than AHL depth with Jobst and Greer, who both are not really prospects. The most notable thing about them is their difference in size; Jobst stands five feet and eight inches tall, seven inches smaller than the six-foot-three Greer. Jobst captained Ohio State University, and had 36 points in 36 games in his final season, before signing with the Islanders. The AHL has not been kind to him, and he is not young. Greer was a 2015 2nd rounder by Colorado, and was acquired in the offseason for Kyle Burroughs, who just debuted for the Avalanche recently. He has played some NHL games over three years for the Avs, but not with great results.
Greer, 24, has scored one goal with one assist for two points in 10 games for the AHL\’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2020-21. In his NHL career in Colorado, he has scored a goal with five assists for six points in 37 games.
Jobst, 27, has no goals and two assists in six games for the Sound Tigers this year. In his two year pro career, Jobst has scored five goals with 10 assists for 15 points in 50 games.