Kyle Palmieri

NHL Rumors: Devils' Kyle Palmieri would be great fit for Bruins if he ends up moving

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NHL Rumors: Devils' Kyle Palmieri would be great fit for Bruins if he ends up moving

There are a number of Bruins trade targets at the forward position who will be discussed ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline, and some have a higher probability of moving than others.

There’s a solid likelihood that Chris Kreider eventually gets moved, and names like Tyler Toffoli and Andreas Athanasiou feel like players who will definitely move on from their respective last place teams before everything is said and done at the deadline.

One player of interest who may or may not be moved at the trade deadline is New Jersey Devils right winger Kyle Palmieri, a player with term who's signed for $4.65 million next season and leads the Devils with 37 points in 50 games while ranking second on the team with 20 goals this season.

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He’s arguably the most effective Devils player on their roster and that means moving him would have immediate catastrophic results for New Jersey.

The 29-year-old is on pace for 30 goals and close to 60 points this season and has topped 25 goals and 50 points in three of the four seasons he’s spent with the Devils since getting shipped out of Anaheim. Palmieri isn’t the big, physical winger that the Bruins really need at 5-foot-11, 185-pounds, but he’s productive while playing on a right side where the Bruins really need to acquire more high-end depth over the foreseeable future.

Palmieri also has 38 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience despite now playing for a dreadful New Jersey team, so he’s a proven commodity in a postseason where the Bruins will need whomever they acquire to step up this spring.

The big question on Palmieri is whether or not the Devils will trade their leading scorer given the lack of established, entrenched leadership at the top of New Jersey’s hockey operations.

Former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald holds the title of interim GM after Ray Shero left the organization in the middle of the season following the Taylor Hall deal, and bold moves involving the team’s best players really aren’t the norm for a general manager until that interim tag goes away.  

The other big question is what kind of cost there would be for a player like Palmieri who's been an outstanding producer since arriving in New Jersey. Given that he’s a productive player with term on a pretty affordable contract, the cost would start with a first round pick and a young cost-controlled NHL roster player like Anders Bjork, and then undoubtedly involve a high-end prospect like Trent Frederic or Urho Vaakanainen as well.

That’s a costly proposition that the Bruins have really stayed away from since Sweeney took over as head of hockey operations.

It wouldn’t be a simple rental move to make at the deadline, but then again it would also give a more long-term solution to a top-6 issue that the Bruins have been slapping band-aid solutions on since Don Sweeney took over as GM five years ago.

A deal for Palmieri is probably a bit lower in terms of probability than others like Kreider or Toffoli, and there are other players of interest on the New Jersey roster as well like Blake Coleman and Miles Wood who could be decent fits for the Bruins. The 24-year-old Wood is having a down year with just 10 goals and 19 points in 54 games with a minus-14 rating, but he’s a big, physical player with speed whom the Bruins have been intrigued by over the years.

The 28-year-old Coleman is another forward who plays with bite and is in the midst of a career year while leading the Devils with 21 goals this season, and is on pace for 32 goals and 50 points while seeming to always play well against the Bruins. Wood is signed for two more years at $2.75 million while still an RFA at the end of his current contract, and Coleman is signed for one more year at $1.8 million before he hits unrestricted free agency.

So neither of those players would come cheaply, but they are also on a Devils team that should be ripping everything down to the studs on the current NHL roster and building up around Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Wil Butcher on the back end.

The bottom line for the Bruins when it comes to Palmieri? There are a number of potential trade candidates on the Devils roster that the Bruins would, and should, have interest in and the Bruins have already done business with New Jersey as recently as last season when they dealt for Marcus Johansson at the trade deadline.

Perhaps history will strike twice and the Bruins will go against the grain to make a deal with a Devils team that’s strictly in a rebuilding mode after dealing away Taylor Hall in the middle of a lost season.

Bruins at the Break: How will B's get past Capitals or Lightning as potential playoff foes?

Bruins at the Break: How will B's get past Capitals or Lightning as potential playoff foes?

The “Bruins at the Break” is a five-part series this week with the B’s on a bye that has examined the first half of the season and how it could potentially impact the remaining 31 games in the second half. Today, we look at the biggest question facing the team: How will they beat the bigger, deeper and stronger Capitals or Lightning in the playoffs?

The Bruins had fortune on their side last spring in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a big, big way.

Both the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning were shockingly out after the first round and, in many ways, those two ousters cleared the path for the Black and Gold to get all the way to the Cup Final once all four No. 1 seeds were eliminated after the quarterfinal round.

The Bruins, of course, couldn’t close the deal in part because they faced a bigger, stronger Blues team after managing to avoid bigger, stronger and deeper teams in Tampa Bay and Washington in the Eastern Conference playoffs. So, eventually, they ran into the same old problem — even though it took four rounds of playoffs to get there.

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Boston would be foolish to assume that kind of lightning is going to strike twice, no pun intended, this spring, and should instead assume it could be facing Tampa or Washington, or even both if the B's advance deep enough into the postseason this time around.

It was the Lightning that dispatched the Bruins in the playoffs a couple of seasons ago in a five-game series that wasn’t all that competitive. It’s the Capitals that have routinely bounced the Bruins around for the better part of five years.

Just prior to the Christmas break, the Bruins got a rare blowout win over the Capitals that was still marred by Washington’s physicality. Once Boston built a strong lead against a Washington team already focused on Christmas vacation, the Capitals spent the rest of the game pounding the smaller B’s until both Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug were knocked out with injuries.

The Bruins have plenty of game-breaking skill and breathtaking two-way play on their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, but they don’t have fire-breathing, heavy, physical playoff-built forwards such as Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson on their roster. That becomes a real issue translating a Boston team built for the regular season into becoming one in the playoffs capable of imposing its will for two months.

Regardless of whether the Bruins can retain their hold on first place in the Atlantic Division in the regular season's final 31 games, the Lightning are the only team that can catch the Bruins at five points back. Still, the regular season and postseason are two different things, and Tampa Bay has depth up front with their forwards that the Bruins can’t really approach.

It’s part of the reason that two springs ago the Brayden Point line was able to shut down Boston’s Perfection Line while other Lightning players took turns beating the Black and Gold and Tampa’s big defensive corps did the job against the smaller B’s forwards as well.  

This season, the Lightning have four players on pace for 30-plus goals (Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Point and Alex Killorn) and already have seven players in double-digit goals at the midpoint in the season. By comparison, the Bruins have each member of their Perfection Line on a 30-goal pace with five players in double-digit goals as Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci are also on pace for 20-goal seasons.

That kind of scoring depth makes a big difference when it becomes a matchup game in the playoffs, where the Bruins were hopelessly outgunned two seasons ago. They would appear to be the case if these two divisional rivals meet again this postseason.

So what can be done about it?

Well, the first thing the Bruins could do immediately is add a big, fast and productive winger to their top-six who could battle with the big D-men in Tampa and Washington. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider would be at the top of that list should he become available. He would aid Boston’s designs on getting closer to the net for postseason offense.

Certainly, others such as Kyle Palmieri or Tyler Toffoli wouldn’t be the same kind of impact wingers, but they would still be an upgrade over what the B’s now have, just as Marcus Johansson was a good trade deadline fit for them last spring.

It seems with the promotion of Karson Kuhlman, on the heels of waiving Brett Ritchie and David Backes, the Bruins are instead going the fast, skilled route and that’s just going to lead to them getting pushed far and away from the net as happened last June vs. St. Louis and two years ago against the Lightning.

It’s a pattern and a way to beat the Bruins in the playoffs and it’s going to happen again against one of those bigger, stronger and deeper teams unless management finds a way to address it over the next month. 

That will be the mission for management the next few weeks as these Bruins compare very favorably to the ones that ultimately fell short of their goal the past two seasons.


 

NHL trade targets: Top-6 forwards for Bruins to pursue at deadline

NHL trade targets: Top-6 forwards for Bruins to pursue at deadline

The Bruins sit at the break in the NHL regular season in first place in the Atlantic Division and are a virtual lock for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There is plenty for the Black and Gold to be proud of as David Pastrnak leads in the NHL in goal-scoring and the Perfection Line, power play and goaltending have been undeniable strengths for the team all season.

But there are also some needs on this team with the trade deadline roughly a month away, and the Bruins are expected to be active over the next month looking to improve a team that ultimately fell short in last season’s playoffs and will need some new blood on a roster that’s played a lot of hockey over the last 18 months.

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The biggest need for the Bruins remains a top-6 right wing capable of scoring goals, finishing off plays and being enough of an offensive weapon that the Bruins don’t become a one-dimensional offense in the playoffs too reliant on Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak when the going gets tough.

There won’t be any shortage of candidates for the Bruins at the deadline and really, truly it will come down to A) their desperation level to fortify their offensive attack B) the development of their young players over the next month and C) how much they are willing to give up in assets — either in a big way like with Rick Nash a couple of years ago or smaller, more reasonable moves like Drew Stafford or Marcus Johansson-level trades that actually ended up working out pretty well in the short term.

There are no shortage of trade options expected to be available at the trade deadline, so let’s go through a few of the skilled top-6 forwards that will be available (All salary information via Cap Friendly):

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
2019-20 stats: 
48 GP, 17 G, 15 A, 117 SOG
Contract: $4.625 million salary cap hit, UFA after 2019-20, modified no-trade clause

The price may have just gone up even more with Chris Kreider getting selected as an All-Star this weekend, and it’s well-deserved given his ability to parlay skating speed and a 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame into an average of 25 goals and 50 points each season. He’s fast, he’s big and he will play on the nasty side from time to time, bringing a lot of different elements that the Bruins could use in their top-6 right now.

Kreider is Boston’s top choice at the trade deadline and will be a player that the Bruins could potentially pay a high price for as they did with Rick Nash a few years ago. Given his background as a Massachusetts native and a college hockey player, one would also expect they’d be planning to keep Kreider beyond this season if they traded for him.

Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings
2019-20 stats: 
49 GP, 12 G, 15 A, 126 SOG
Contract: $4.6 million salary cap hit, UFA after 2019-20

The 27-year-old Toffoli is a natural right wing, has a Stanley Cup title on his résumé and is on pace for 20 goals and 45 points this season for a Kings team that doesn’t have much in the way of offense at all. Toffoli has surpassed 30 goals and 50 points once in his career, but is more along the lines of a player capable of the numbers he’s putting up this season.

It certainly looks like the 6-foot, 200-pounder has lost some of his game as the Kings have edged away from competitor status, and perhaps a return to a legit Cup hopeful like the Bruins would return some of the bounce to his game. He won’t cost nearly as much as Kreider, and remains a secondary option for the Bruins should they miss out on their top targets. That being said, there will be shortage of suitors for a player like Toffoli as well.

Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils
2019-20 stats: 
44 GP, 16 G, 15 A, 103 SOG
Contract: $4.65 million salary cap hit, UFA after 2020-21, modified no-trade clause

The 28-year-old winger has really blossomed with New Jersey and has been good for at least 20 goals and 50 points in each season with the Devils while providing a deadly option on the power play. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder would bring a shooter and finishing presence to Boston’s second power play unit and is exactly the kind of player who could finish off a lot of the David Krejci set-ups that aren’t currently turning into goals.

Palmieri would undoubtedly cost the Bruins a first-round pick and a significant prospect given that he’s signed through next season and isn’t a straight “rental” player. But once again Palmieri would be a player who would likely fit into Boston’s long-term plan.

On the downside, Palmieri isn’t the ideal solution at just 5-foot-11, 185 pounds and is more of the same of what they already have, and wouldn’t necessarily give the Bruins somebody to battle with the big defensemen corps that have successfully bottled them up in the playoffs.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Montreal Canadiens
2019-20 stats: 
25 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 57 SOG
Contract: $700,000 salary cap hit, UFA after 2020-21

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the Bruins passed on Kovalchuk when they could have signed him to a two-way, $700,000 contract, but instead traded away perfectly good assets to Montreal for his services at the trade deadline?

It would be the second time Don Sweeney would do something like that after he similarly passed on Lee Stempniak as a tryout option in training camp and then traded draft picks to Carolina in exchange for him at the trade deadline five years ago. The 36-year-old has four goals and eight points in eight games since going to Montreal and now has seven goals and 17 points in 25 games this season.

It wouldn’t be a big cost for the Bruins to acquire him, and he’s another goal-scoring talent who could be dynamic with David Krejci, and a potent finisher who could make Boston’s second PP unit a lot more dangerous.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators
2019-20 stats: 
46 GP, 19 G, 12 A, 103 SOG
Contract: $3.1 million salary cap hit, UFA after 2020-21

The Bruins could go a different route and trade for a third-line center that would allow them to push Charlie Coyle over to the wing for the rest of this season, and for a playoff run. Coyle would certainly bring the size, strength and offensive ability that the Bruins need for a top-6 wing, and J.G. Pageau is the kind of scrappy two-way center who would bring speed, tenacity and some underrated offense to the table along with penalty killing and face-off ability.

The 27-year-old is on pace for 33 goals and 54 points this season and already has three shorthanded goals in 46 games this season. Considering he’s already matched his season-high in goals and is just 12 points away from his career-high in that category too, it might be the right season to buy in on JGP as a rental before he hits free agency.