Back at the trade deadline, the Islanders decided to acquire both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for the back half of their season and into the playoffs. While the regular season didn’t go as planned for Palmieri, he’s been significantly better in the playoffs.
In 17 games with the Isles during the regular season, Palms had just two goals and four points. Not nearly justifying his price tag and what the Isles needed from him.
But the playoffs have been a different story. In the playoffs, he has four goals and five points to his name. Including the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Penguins series.
Clearly, this is what Lou Lamoriello was looking for when he made the move to get Kyle Palmieri in here. The question then becomes, does Lou decide to extend Palmieri or leave this as a rental for the Isles?
Unfortunately, with the cap situation for the Islanders, I don’t see how it would be possible to keep a guy like Palmieri around. He was making an AAV of $4.65 million on his last deal, you’d have to imagine it would be at least $5 million to keep him here.
Bleacher Report, before the season, predicted that he would sign a deal with an AAV of $6.5 million. While that AAV seems a tad high, I would not be surprised at all to see him in the $5 million range which frankly the Isles can’t afford.
They have RFA’s like Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech, and Anthony Beauvillier to take care of and on top of that, they have a hard decision staring them in the face with UFA Casey Cizikas.
Sure, there are always ways to free up space, for instance, maybe Semyon Varlamov becomes expendable via trade to the strong start of Ilya Sorokin and that would free up $5 million. Seattle taking Nick Leddy, Josh Bailey, or Jordan Eberle in expansion would also help the Isles cap situation as well.
I just don’t see it as something that’s all that likely for Palmieri to stick. He has spent most of his time on line three with JG Pageau and when Anders Lee returns next year, I’d expect Palmieri to remain down on that line so Lee could go back with Mathew Barzal. Do you want to spend another $5 million on someone you’ll play on the third line?
The moral of the story is Palmieri and Travis Zajac too for that matter were brought in to help mitigate the loss of Anders Lee. Once Lee comes back, the Isles don’t necessarily need their services.
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I’m glad Palmieri has turned it around come playoff time but once this ride comes to an end, I don’t expect to see him return to the Island.