The Boston Bruins were reportedly interested in acquiring New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri ahead of Monday’s NHL deadline, but he was treated to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
The Islanders acquired Palmieri and Veterans Center Travis Zajac – both are UFAs this summer – in exchange for a first round for 2021, a conditional fourth rounder and minor league forward AJ Greer and Mason Jobst.
New York came in first on Thursday with the Washington Capitals atop the East Division. The islands are eight points ahead of the B’s with three more games played.
Here are three ways the Palmieri trade is affecting the Bruins with just a few days to the trading deadline.
Islanders are becoming a tougher playoff opponent
The Islanders were already a tough matchup for the Bruins prior to this swap, and the additions of Palmieri and Zajac make New York an even tougher potential playoff opponent.
The Bruins are winless (0-3-2) compared to the Islanders this season and have been surpassed 17-8 and 12-6 in 5-on-5. Boston also has a -17 high-dangerous shot attempt difference and a moderate .896 5-to-5 save rate against the islands.
The islanders had to add scoring depth after losing top-six winger and captain Anders Lee to a torn ACL last month. Palmieri gives the Islanders a proven goalscorer (five consecutive seasons with 20 goals going into 2021) and someone who can bolster New York’s 22nd-seeded power play. Palmieri has scored 52 power play goals in the past five seasons.
Five of his eight total goals this season have fallen against the Bruins.
Zajac is not a top six player at this stage in his career, but he offers valuable center depth and 57 games of post-season experience.
The Islanders are one of the top defensive teams in the league, ranked No. 2 in both goal allowances and shots per game. These two offensive reinforcements give New York much-needed balance with the playoffs on the horizon.
They would be preferred over the Bruins if they met in the late season, which is a very real possibility.
One of B’s top goals off the board
Palmieri was arguably the main trading target among forwards that are said to be available. It is more reliable and durable than Taylor Hall.
The Bruins’ main focus on the deadline should be to add an experienced defender, preferably from the top four. But if they choose to cash in on their best assets for a term, there are still some intriguing names to found.
Here’s a quick overview:
Conor Garland, RW, Coyotes: His 5-on-5 score would help the B’s significantly, but the Coyotes are in a playoff spot, so there’s no real incentive for them to sell by the deadline.
Taylor Hall, LW, SabersTwo goals in 37 games is pretty bad, but he’d probably be more productive surrounded by better players and rejuvenated by playing on a team making a play-off push. He also has the motivation to play for a new contract this summer.
Mike Hoffman, LW, Blues: Hoffman was quite late in the off-season before joining the Blues on a tryout. He’s not a great defensive forward, but his scoring ability – six consecutive seasons with 20 goals going into 2021 – is impressive.
Mikael Granlund, LW / C, Predators: Granlund is a versatile forward who would add a score shot to Boston’s bottom six group. The Predators are competing in the playoff race, but Granlund is eligible for free agency in the summer.
Rickard Rakell, LW, ducks: A capable forward whose offensive production has declined over the past two years, but in 2016-17 and 2017-18, he did 30 goal seasons consecutively. Rakell has one more year on his contract, so he’s not a rental option.
What are the prices for deadlines?
We haven’t seen many transactions yet. The Palmieri deal was the first major deal close to the deadline. This is not an uncommon scenario, as general managers typically wait as long as possible to see if asking prices eventually fall as the deadline approaches.
What are the prices like at the moment?
“Teams want me to pay the full freight, essentially normal historical trade deadline prices, for what equates to half a tank of gas,” a general manager told TSN’s Frank Seravalli last week.
The islanders basically gave up a first round and a conditional fourth rounder to get Palmieri and Zajac. The two players sent to the Devils are AHLers and are unlikely to have much of an impact on New Jersey in the long run.
Even if other pieces were involved, the Devils getting a first round pick for Palmieri could make other GMs of selling teams more likely to demand one for their players. The Bruins should hesitate to give up a first round as they’ve traded two in the last three years and their potential pool is among the worst in the competition
The CEO of B, Don Sweeney, has especially made depth additions in gaining forwards on the trade deadline. Well-known names include Charlie Coyle, Marcus Johansson, Nick Ritche, Tommy Wingels, Drew Stafford and Lee Stempniak.
If price is a top choice for someone like Palmieri, it would make more sense for the B’s to pay a lower price for a depth ahead. This Bruins team is not good enough to list a first-rounder on a lease.
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