30 goals isn't what NY Islanders F Kyle Palmieri was most proud of this season

Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri scored 30 goals for only the second time in his career this season, but in his mind, it wasn't his biggest accomplishment. "I think the thing I'm most proud of is staying healthy and playing all the games," said Palmieri at Friday's clean out day."

Palmieri was one of four Islanders (Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, JG Pageau) to play in all 82 regular season games this year after missing 27 last year and 13 in 2021-22. Anders Lee played in the first 81, but missed the season finale for the birth of his son.

Playing the full schedule allowed Palmieri to put up the type of numbers, the Islanders expected from him when he was acquired from the New Jersey Devils at the 2021 deadline and then extended after a strong playoff run to the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Palmieri's ability to live up to his contract was limited by injuries sustained his first two seasons on Long Island, especially last year when a head injury and concussion symptons kept him out for an extended period of time.

"Looking at last year with the head stuff, you really don't know; it's not a broken bone where you say you'll be back at it in four weeks," Palmieri said. "It's hard. Every day you need to take it as it is, you're gonna have a stretch of good ones and some bad ones and that's difficult mentally."

He was able to come back and finish strong last season in helping the Islanders clinch the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. However, the road back from every player is different and regaining your prior form and getting better is not an easy task. However, the road back for every player is different, and regaining your prior form and getting better is not an easy task.

"Any guy who has been through a somewhat significant concussion, it's hard. I've seen a lot of my teammates and buddies see careers end over things like that, and they never feel right again," Palmieri added from personal experience.

One teammate who has dealt with concussions the last two seasons was defenseman Adam Pelech. The 29-year-old has suffered head injuries each of the last two seasons, stalling his way back to the form that made him an All-Star during the 2021-22 season. "Pelly is a couple of years younger than I am, and when you have it happen in your career, it's something you need to take it day by day, just knowing and hoping you're going to get better."

There are certain things, like an elbow from Montreal's Brendan Gallagher, that are out of your control as a hockey player, but somehow, you need to mentally overcome those unfortunate events and build back up your confidence to play at the consistent level that brought success throughout your career. "It's still a physical game and moves fast," Palmieri acknowledged. "It's part of the game, but you still want to do everything possible to protect yourself."