The NY Islanders are finally getting to see the best version of Kyle Palmieri

Mar 5, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA;  New York Islanders center Kyle Palmieri (21) shoots against St.
Mar 5, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Kyle Palmieri (21) shoots against St. / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

It's taken more than two full years but the New York Islanders are finally seeing the version of Kyle Palmieri they expected when they first traded for and later re-signed the veteran forward to a four-year contract after the 2020-21 season.

After scoring seven goals in 19 playoff games during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, GM Lou Lamoriello elected to re-sign the Long Island native and expose talented and popular forward Jordan Eberle to the expansion draft, where he was snagged by the Seattle Kraken.

A former 2009 first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Palmieri had scored 20+ goals in five consecutive seasons for the New Jersey Devils before being dealt to the Islanders along with Travis Zajac for a 2021 first-round pick. The expectation was that Palmieri would be a dependable winger who would help the team's power play as another physical net-front presence.

However, injuries and streaky play had prevented Palmieri from matching expectations in his first two full seasons with the Islanders. He scored 15 goals in 69 game during the 2021-22 season, his lowest mark during a full NHL schedule since 2014-15. Last year, he was off to another slow start and then battled two separate injuries before getting healthy and scoring 11 goals over the season's final 30 games, hitting his stride on a line with Brock Nelson and Pierre Engvall.

This season, the 33-year-old has remained healthy, appearing in all 63 games and, with a goal on Sunday night versus the Anaheim Ducks, reached the 20-goal mark for the first time as an Islander. He's been especially good since Patrick Roy took over, scoring nine goals and four assists, including a natural hat first against the Boston Bruins on Mar. 2nd.

Last night, playing in his 799th career game against the team that drafted him, Palmieri skillfully knocked down a stretch pass from Mike Reilly at the blue line before sliding a back-hander in on a breakaway to give the Islanders an early 2-0 lead as he continued to stay hot.

"Staying healthy is a big part of it," said Palmieri. "I just want to continue to try and play well. Our line is playing well and generating a lot of chances and giving ourselves a chance to make a positive impact on the game and help our team win.”

Ahead of a milestone game in Los Angeles, Palmieri is showing that he is still capable of producing the way the Islanders envisioned. With Roy loading up the top line with Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal, and Brock Nelson having secondary scoring elsewhere has become that much more important, and Palmieri is a big reason why the new line combinations are working.

"We want to go out and get off to a good start and focus on those first couple shifts to get everyone into it,” Palmieri added. “The way up and down the lineup the different lines have contributed it's something that's really encouraging as we move forward into the last quarter of the season here."