When the Boston Bruins play the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden on Tuesday night, they will get another up-close look at a player they should strongly consider targeting before the April 12 NHL trade deadline: Kyle Palmieri.
The Devils right winger is the type of player who could help the Bruins' second or third lines. He struggled for a good chunk of the season but has started to find his groove over the last few weeks.
Palmieri scored three goals in his first 19 games, but he's scored three times -- including the game-winner during a 1-0 win over Boston on Sunday -- in his last six matchups entering Tuesday. Palmieri has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in his last 10 games, bringing his season total to 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 32 games.
The 29-year-old veteran came into 2021 with five consecutive seasons scoring 20-plus goals. His shooting percentage of 8.8 this season is nearly four percent below his career average. Playing on an elite puck possession team (No. 3 in shot attempt percentage at 5-on-5) like the Bruins, and perhaps with a talented playmaker in David Krejci, could help put Palmieri in better positions to score goals.
Palmieri is also the type of player who Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has targeted at the trade deadline since he became the man in charge in 2015.
Last season, Sweeney acquired two middle-six wingers -- Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase -- in separate deals with the Anaheim Ducks. Two years ago, Sweeney brought in third-liners Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. One of the few exceptions was Sweeney acquiring top-six winger Rick Nash from the New York Rangers in 2018. That deal didn't work out, but it was the right move at the time.
Sweeney also acquired depth forward Drew Stafford before the deadline in 2017, as well as middle-six winger Lee Stempniak in 2016.
So, we haven't really seen the Bruins make a hard push for a top player on the market at recent trade deadlines. That's not a bad thing, either, as these deals often are very expensive and seldom work out.
Palmieri will be a free agent at the end of the season, and with the Devils headed for the draft lottery again, it makes a lot of sense for New Jersey to trade him and get some sort of asset in return.
For the Bruins, acquiring the veteran winger would help a team that ranks 30th in 5-on-5 goals scored and has significant offensive depth issues after the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.