As disappointment seemed to infect the NY Islanders roster last season, Long Island native Kyle Palmieri was at the heart of the conversation. Fresh off a new four-year $20M contract with the Isles, Palmieri could not seem to get the ball rolling, failing to live up to the expectations placed upon him when Lou Lamoriello traded a first-round pick for the former member of the NJ Devils.
As the Islanders started their season off with 13-games on the road, it took until the final game of the trip for Palmieri to pot his first goal. It would seem that a 12-game goalless streak for a player of Palmieri's caliber is nearly impossible. However, he followed it up with a 16-game goal drought.
Heading into the February 15th matchup with the Buffalo Sabres, four months into the campaign, Palmieri stood at only one goal on the season.
"I think it’s something that, you just go out and work. You work to get your chances. You work to be good defensively. And those things, sometimes it takes a little longer to pay off."- Kyle Palmieri on his early struggles
In early February, Palmieri announced that his wife had given birth to the couple's first child. It seemed to have marked the turning point in Palmieri's season looking like his former self for the remainder of the season. A clean bill of health after some bumps likely helped, too.
In his final 40 games, Palmieri finished with 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists), good enough for fifth on the team in that span. In a walk-off interview with MSG Networks, teammate Noah Dobson was asked what was behind Palmieri's recent turnaround. Dobson replied, "dad power."
Aside from his lackluster start to the season, Palmieri was also snake-bitten when it came to officials overturning goals. Five times Palmieri had goals reversed following review, four of which came in the final two months of the season. Regardless, Palmieri's 14 goals in the final 40 games equate to roughly 29 goals at an 82-game pace which more closely resembles his previous career totals.
Since becoming a member of the Devils in 2015, Palmieri has consistently been roughly a 50-plus point player. The Islanders extended him for four years last summer looking for that prowess in their lineup, something he'll need to bring in order for the Islanders to be successful 2022-23 season.
The use of Palmieri in the lineup is widespread. He can be used on the wing anywhere in the lineup, from the first line down to the third. If he can find his game early and often, we can very likely see him in the top-6 possibly on Mathew Barzal's right, eating up valuable minutes. If he struggles out the gate, he will conceivably spend most of his time alongside JG Pageau on the third line.
As Lane Lambert takes the helm behind the Isles' bench, there's hope that he can get Palmieri cooking and playing as he has in the playoffs. The expectation for Palmieri should be to channel that "dad power" for the entire 2022-23 season, looking more like his second-half self from 2021-22.