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Islanders acquire Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac from Devils

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The Isles sent to New Jersey a package centered around their first-round pick at this year’s draft.

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
Take it easy, boys. You might be linemates, now.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Islanders have made their move—well, their big one—by acquiring from the New Jersey Devils Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. Arthur Staple managed to scoop the team, even if he didn’t have the full return package.

In return, the Devils received the Isles’ 2021 first-round pick, a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick, and minor-league forwards A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst. The Devils also retained 50% both Palmieri’s and Zajac’s salaries.

The condition on the fourth-round pick is that it becomes a third-round pick if the Isles make the Stanley Cup Final, but the Islanders can decide whether to send to New Jersey their 2022 third-round pick or their 2023 third-round pick.

Isles GM Lou Lamoriello dealt yet again with his former team, acquiring Palmieri, a player that the Devils acquired after Lou left his GM post in New Jersey but before he left his President of Hockey Operations post there, and Zajac, whom Lou has known since he drafted him in the first round of the 2004 NHL Draft.

It was the first big deal of the 2021 Trade Deadline season, and one might imagine that it will kick start the rest of the Deadline movement. The Islanders reportedly were close to acquiring the other big fish, Taylor Hall, but decided to go with the Palmieri and Zajac package.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Devils retaining the most salary allowable, the Islanders still have a little more than $3 million in LTIR overage space to add. I think that would take them out of the Hall sweepstakes, unless they can convince the Buffalo Sabres to both retain 50% of Hall’s salary AND take back a contract. Alternatively, they could find another team to broker a three-team deal with them. But that seems unlikely. It does leave them more space to add some more depth, though, be it another forward or a defenseman.

Andrew Gross projected the new lines, fitting in Palmieri and Zajac. I like these, except that I think that it should be Zajac sliding over to the wing instead of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau is just too valuable as a center. But having five capable NHL centers is a nice problem to have as a contender.

On their way out the door, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald wished his former players well, even at the expense of their own draft position.

We hope so, too, Mr. Fitzgerald. Palmieri is a local kid; he was born in Smithtown and still has family in that area, even though he spent most of his childhood in New Jersey.

And one more thing: it’s not a guarantee that Palmieri and Zajac play tomorrow night, but since they’ll be on the ice for morning skate, I’d say to expect them in the lineup.

Man, I’m excited, both for the new guys and to see if Lou has anything else up his sleeve.