It’s official: the trading season has arrived.
With the NHL trading deadline less than a week away, a major swap broke out in the East Division on Wednesday night as Tri-State clubs, the Devils and the Islanders traded players and picks. The New York squad grabbed forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, while New Jersey got two minor leaguer and some draft picks – one of which was the first.
It’s good business for both clubs as the Devils keep the closets in stock and the Isles have two people who could help Stanley Cup competitors up front.
This is how the teams did it:
New Jersey Islanders Get:
Kyle Palmieri (F) and Travis Zajac (F)
Devils received from New York:
AJ Greer (F), Mason Jobst (F), selection of the first round 2021, conditional selection of the fourth round 2022
New Jersey will keep 50 percent of Zajac and Palmieri’s salaries.
Devil class: B +
Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald knows how to make movements. Last year on the cutoff date (when he was in the meantime) he made three deals, and that was after sending Blake Coleman to the Blitz and Andy Greene to the same islands. This year he traded two guys who this summer will be unrestricted free agents they could have lost for nothing, for anything.
NHL TRADE TRACKER 2021: List of trades closed before the deadline
With a young core that included Jack Hughes, Ty Smith, and netminder Mackenzie Blackwood, Fitzgerald went out and added at least one other potential young star. New Jersey now has nine picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the opening round. Greer is an election for the second round in 2015, and Jobst remained vacant. both had played with Bridgeport in the AHL.
“It prepares us really well for the future,” said Fitzgerald at Zoom after the deal. “We feel like we have three really good prospects that can evolve as part of our development program and develop these players into the players we are projecting them for.”
While the draft for 2021 isn’t as deep as 2020, the Devils could get a good man in the final part of the first round, where Fitzgerald expects the choice to fall.
“I hope it’s the 32nd election, I really do. I hope these two men can win a trophy and we get the 32nd election. I wouldn’t love anything more than that,” he said.
Islanders Class: A-
The islanders lost captain Anders Lee, who was linked to Brock Nelson because of the goal management of the team (12), in March to a knee injury at the end of the season. According to NHL.com’s Brian Compton, GM Lou Lamoriello noted that the way the team reacted after Lee fell (8-4-0) had to take a step to strengthen the line-up.
“I know what they’re putting on the ice,” said Lamoriello of his latest acquisitions. “I also know what kind of people they are and what they bring into the locker room. Chemistry is extremely important to me.”
Lamoriello especially knows Zajac, whom he designed for the Devils in 2004 with the 20th overall victory. The two-way center has spent its entire career in the Garden State, accumulating 550 points in 1,024 games. He also has 28 points in 57 playoff games, including 14 points in second place in the 2012 Devils Stanley Cup.
He’s likely going to be a bottom-six guy for Barry Spy’s club, but what he brings to the table as a grizzled veteran – and that long playoff run – is beyond the reach of the squad. It should be noted that Zajac waived his no-trade clause to go to the island, and since it’s a short drive (depending on traffic) from New Jersey to Uniondale, this was likely a big reason for that.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Zajac. “At the [this] At point in my career and where I am, I want a chance to win. I just believe that this is a team that has all the aspects of a winning ice hockey team and can try to be a part of it and help them in every possible way … I think it was the right time just for me. “
Palmieri was the blue chip in this business. Before the move, he was considered one of the top players expected to be moved. (TSN’s Trade Bait Board had him 2nd.) The 30-year-old winger has only scored 17 points this season (in 34 games) but has consistently scored more than 20 goals in the last five seasons. In 595 career games between ducks and devils, he has 183 goals and 172 assists. A change of scene and playing with Mat Barzal could trigger his offense.
“Every player wants the opportunity to be part of a team that has the chance to do something special,” Palmieri told reporters. “That’s all you can ask. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Aside from joining a team that could have a long postseason, the two newest islanders will also greet old friends and teammates Greene and Cory Schneider (taxi squad) from a social distance.