The Boston Bruins reportedly were interested in acquiring New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, but he was dealt to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
The Islanders acquired Palmieri and veteran center Travis Zajac — both are UFAs this summer — in exchange for a 2021 first-round draft pick, a conditional fourth-rounder and minor league forwards A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst.
New York entered Thursday in a first-place tie with the Washington Capitals atop the East Division. The Isles have an eight-point lead on the B’s with three more games played.
Here are three ways the Palmieri trade impacts the Bruins with just a few days until the trade deadline.
Islanders become tougher playoff opponent
The Islanders already were a difficult matchup for the Bruins prior to this trade, and the additions of Palmieri and Zajac make New York an even tougher potential playoff opponent.
The Bruins are winless (0-3-2) versus the Islanders this season and have been outscored 17-8 overall and 12-6 at 5-on-5. Boston also has a minus-17 high-danger shot attempt differential and a lackluster .896 save percentage at 5-on-5 against the Isles.
The Islanders needed to add scoring depth after losing top-six winger and captain Anders Lee to a torn ACL last month. Palmieri gives the Islanders a proven goal scorer (five consecutive 20-goal seasons entering 2021) and someone who can bolster New York’s 22nd-ranked power play. Palmieri has scored 52 power-play goals over the past five seasons.
Five of his eight total goals this season have come against the Bruins.
Zajac isn’t a top-six caliber player at this stage of his career, but he provides valuable center depth and 57 games of postseason experience.
The Islanders are one of the league’s best defensive teams and rank No. 2 in both goals allowed and shots allowed per game. These two offensive reinforcements give New York much-needed balance with the playoffs on the horizon.
They would be favored over the Bruins if they met in the postseason, which is a very real possibility.
One of B’s top targets off the board
Palmieri arguably was the top trade target among forwards rumored to be available. He’s more reliable and durable than Taylor Hall.
The Bruins’ main focus at the deadline should be adding a veteran defenseman, preferably of the top-four variety. But if they choose to cash in their best assets for a forward, there are still some intriguing names to target.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Conor Garland, RW, Coyotes: His 5-on-5 scoring would significantly help the B’s, but the Coyotes are in a playoff spot so there’s no real incentive for them to sell at the deadline.
Taylor Hall, LW, Sabres: Two goals in 37 games is pretty bad, but he likely would be more productive surrounded by better players and rejuvenated by playing on a team making a playoff push. He also has the motivation of playing for a new contract this summer.
Mike Hoffman, LW, Blues: Hoffman was a free agent very late into the offseason before joining the Blues on a tryout. He’s not a great defensive forward but his scoring ability — six consecutive 20-goal seasons entering 2021 — is impressive.
Mikael Granlund, LW/C, Predators: Granlund is a versatile forward who would add a scoring punch to Boston’s bottom-six group. The Predators are in the playoff race but Granlund is a eligible for free agency in the summer.
Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks: A skilled forward whose offensive production has declined over the last two years, but he did tally back-to-back 30-goal seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Rakell has another year left on his contract, so he’s not a rental option.
What will deadline prices be like?
We haven’t seen many trades yet. The Palmieri deal was the first big one close to the deadline. This isn’t an uncommon scenario because general managers typically wait as long as they can to see if asking prices eventually drop as the deadline nears.
What are prices like right now?
“Teams would like me to pay full freight, essentially normal historical trade deadline prices, for what amounts to a half tank of gas,” a general manager told TSN’s Frank Seravalli last week.
The Islanders basically gave up a first-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder to get Palmieri and Zajac. The two players sent to the Devils are AHLers and unlikely to make much of an impact for New Jersey long-term.
Even if other pieces were involved, the Devils getting a first-round pick for Palmieri could make other GMs from selling teams more likely to demand one for their players. The Bruins should be hesitant to give up a first-round pick, considering they’ve trade two over the last three years and their prospect pool is among the league’s worst.
B’s general manager Don Sweeney has mostly made depth additions when acquiring forwards at the trade deadline. Notable names include Charlie Coyle, Marcus Johansson, Nick Ritche, Tommy Wingels, Drew Stafford and Lee Stempniak.
If the price for someone like Palmieri is a first-round pick, it would make more sense for the B’s to pay a lesser price for a depth forward. This Bruins team is not good enough to warrant giving up a first-rounder for a rental.