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Bruins trade rumors: Who is Kyle Palmieri, anyway?

A closer look at one of the NHL’s biggest trade targets this season

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note (9 PM): Well it’s a good thing we posted this earlier today! Palmieri has been traded to the New York Islanders. It was fun while it lasted!

If you’re like most Bruins fans right now, you’re probably eagerly watching your favorite sports media source to check the latest rumors on moves Boston might make to improve their roster.

And if so, you’re also very familiar with the rumors that Boston is very interested in Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils.

But who is Kyle Palmieri anyways, and more importantly, can he help the Bruins win?

If your only knowledge of Palmieri is from watching him score multiple goals against Boston this season, then you probably think it’s a no-brainer to trade for him, but not so fast...let’s take a closer look at the type of player Palmieri is, if he can help the Bruins, and what would it cost for Boston to acquire the Devils’ top right winger.

The background check

Kyle Palmieri, born in Smithtown, New York, was drafted 26th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2009; he played in five seasons for the Ducks.

Palmieri’s time in Anaheim can probably best be described as ‘MEH,’ with his best season coming in 2014-2015, when he put up 14 goals and 15 assists in 57 games of action.

Having thought they had seen the ceiling on Palmieri’s potential and disappointed with his most recent playoff performance (just 4 points in 16 games) the Ducks traded him to New Jersey for a second-round pick in 2015 and third-round pick in 2016.

And while it seemed the Ducks had received a pretty good haul for Palmieri, the young forward quickly made Anaheim regret their decision to move him.

In his first season in New Jersey, Palmieri lit the lamp 30 times, putting up 57 points in 82 games.

Not including the current season, Palmieri has averaged 26.4 goals per season, which includes the 2018 season, where he only played 62 games, and the 2020 shortened season, in which he played just 65 games.

Interestingly from a Bruins point of view, the majority of Palmieri’s goals over this span were scored at 5v5.

While all of this looks quite rosy, it should be noted that Palmieri, when he’s not playing against the Bruins, is having a down year in 2021.

If the season was a full 82 games, Palmieri would be on pace for just 19 goals and 41 points, as he hasn’t had the same puck luck this year, shooting well below his career shooting percentage.

What could Palmieri bring to Boston?

From his Anaheim days until now, Palmieri has always brought speed, energy, and tenacity every night he laces up his skates.

He possesses an accurate shot, which is good because he definitely has a shoot-first mentality. For a smaller guy by NHL standards (5’11’’ and 185lbs), he’s also not afraid to throw his body around, averaging well over 100 hits per 82 games.

As mentioned previously, the thing the Bruins may have to worry about with Palmieri is that he’s not having a great season so far.

Offensively, his numbers are down, but his defensive game is down as well: his expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) is at a career worst 2.62.

Normally a pretty strong two-way defender, Palmieri has already been on the ice for 26 goals against in 34 games; the highest rate of his career.

While it may not mean much, Palmieri doesn’t exactly have a proven track record of playoff success either.

To be fair, over the last few years, he’s played on some very bad New Jersey Devils teams, only making the playoffs once in his time there.

But if the Bruins are also looking to add a player who’s had playoff success in the past, it isn’t Palmieri.

What would it cost to bring Palmieri to Boston?

There’s really two ways to look at what it would cost Boston to trade for Palmieri: what is he really worth vs. what are teams willing to pay to add him.

For a 30 year old who only has 8 goals so far and is a UFA at the conclusion of the season, he’s probably only worth a second-round pick at best.

However, given the time of year and the demand for scoring wingers around the league, you could easily see teams giving up a first-round pick and then some.

The Devils could also ask for a legitimate prospect in a deal as well. While NHL guru Elliotte Freidman has speculated that buyers will be very hesitant to give away first-round picks this season, a promising team like the New York Islanders, who lost Anders Lee for the year, still might be willing to sell the farm for Palmieri.

For Boston, a team with limited prospects, giving up a player plus a top pick could simply be too much to ask.

That being said, we’re all too familiar with the fact that this team’s Stanley Cup winning window is almost closed. Adding Palmieri to the lineup would undoubtedly strengthen Boston’s middle-six, but would it be enough to put them over the top?

In all likelihood no, but if the Bruins could somehow get defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in a Palmieri deal as well, then the double-haul could be worth the risk for Boston.