The Islanders have put the rest of the NHL on notice.
Even though the trade deadline isn’t until Monday, April 12th at 3:00 p.m., the Islanders made a huge splash by completing a trade with the New Jersey Devils for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. In return, the Isles sent over A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, their 2021 first-round pick and their 2022 fourth-round pick*. This trade has no doubt made the Islanders even stronger, boosting a team that is already tied for first at the top of the Eastern Division.
What the Isles Gained
Let’s start with the big names coming to play on The Island. Palmieri, a Long Island native, is a 30-year-old who has been one of the best players for the Devils during his almost six-year tenure there. He leaves New Jersey with 140 goals and 126 assists for a total of 266 points. So far this season, he sits at eight goals and nine assists. It’s important to note that Palmieri will be a free agent after this season, meaning he will be a rental if the Isles decide not to extend him.
This 17-point total puts him just behind his teammate and other Islanders acquisition, Zajac. This 35-year-old veteran has seven goals and 11 assists, putting him at 18 points so far. He has spent his entire 15-year NHL career in New Jersey and leaves with 202 goals and 348 assists: 550 points.
Both of these players could fit nicely into the Islanders’ different lines–especially with Anders Lee out with injury. Even though Palmieri is a RW, he could play on the left in the first line with Mat Barzal in the middle and Jordan Eberle on the right. Another possibility would be to play Anthony Beauvillier on the left and put Palmieri on the right; this would allow both of them to play in their regular positions.
As for Zajac, you could also switch up his positioning too. The Isles have four established centers in Barzal, Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. While you could always replace one of those with Zajac, you could also do something like Josh Bailey-Nelson-Zajac. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
What the Isles Lost
Greer has mostly played in the AHL with only some NHL action. This season was his first season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after two seasons with the Colorado Eagles. In those two seasons, he had 35 goals and 41 assists. At just 24 years old, he is still pretty young and has a lot to prove. The Devils could use him as depth in the AHL or play him right away. He’s a LW so he could play on one of the wings that Palmieri left behind.
While Jobst has also only really seen AHL action, he is a much different player than Greer. He only has two seasons with the Sound Tigers–including this one–and so far this season he only has two assists in seven games. Last season, he had eight goals and five assists. At 27, he is a an older prospect and with such little playing time and low production I can see him playing in the AHL as depth.
The first-round pick is a first-round pick while the fourth-round pick* is a little bit different. If the Isles make the Stanley Cup Final, the fourth pick becomes a third pick in 2022 or 2023. In this case, the Isles would be able to decide which one they send over to the Devils.
Grading the Trade
I would give this trade an A.
This is a superb move for the Isles that shows how they are in a win-now mode. As I said, Palmieri is a rental who could help them make a deep, playoff run whilst Zajac might be nearing the end of his career. Both of these players have a lot to play for–especially Palmieri, who is from Long Island. The Isles were able to get these important pieces at a low cost. Yes, they lost a first-round pick but their other pick is a from a lower round and only one of the prospects is really something to write home about (apologies, Jobst).
All in all, this is a fantastic move for the Islanders. It gives them the pieces they need to make a run at the Stanley Cup and bring a championship back home to The Island for the first time since 1983.
Buckle up, NHL. The Islanders are coming in hot.