Why Not? is a look at potential targets for the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Instead of just shooting down every idea out there, Vegas Hockey Now explores the top trade targets and sees how they might fit. The Vegas Golden Knights haven’t been mentioned much in connection with New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, but they’d be remiss if they weren’t knee-deep in the conversation for several reasons.
Let’s start with a little background on Palmieri, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He just turned 30 in February, so there’s still some tread on the tires if a team would look to re-sign him and not just use him as a rental. His cap hit is $4.65M so there would be some movement needed for the VGK to make this one work.
Offensively, Palmieri has just eight goals this year, but four of those have come in his last eight games. He’s been one of the most consistent scoring wings in the NHL for the last several seasons, scoring 24-or-more goals for the last five straight seasons. Despite a slow start, Palmieri’s value is still going to start somewhere in the neighborhood of a first round pick or some equivalent thereof. Vegas does still have its first-round pick this year and the pick is likely to be 24th or lower.
The first reason why Vegas could use the boost is despite the talent on the roster, goals have been hard to come by whether on the power play or at even strength. Kyle Palmieri could add that extra weapon to the power play, having scored exactly 11 power play goals in four of the last five seasons. Given Vegas’ struggles with the man-advantage this season, it wouldn’t hurt to have him as an option on either power play unit. With Cody Glass endlessly in and out of the lineup, it could also bring more stability to the unit with an everyday player on it.
He also could slide up and down a lineup that has battled injuries a few times this year, and even if you keep the top six intact could you imagine Palmieri with potential linemates of Alex Tuch and Glass/Roy? That’s a line that could be a second line on almost any other team in the league.
Despite Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon saying he doesn’t really want to subtract a player from the roster if the VGK wants to hang on to the first-round pick allegedly being sought, it might require moving a roster player. It certainly would require deleting salary in some form to fit Palmieri under the cap, meaning that perhaps a more veteran player would be on the move, either to LTIR or traded away to make room.
Palmieri also makes sense because he brings another veteran presence to a team that likes having experience. He’s had a good amount of international experience with Team USA as well, so a big stage is nothing new to him. It’s nice to bring in someone who has a better chance of handling the transition and blending in with his new team quickly, which older players tend to handle a bit better.
Finally, a player like Palmieri fits into the Golden Knights because he’s not a break-the-bank offensive force but a solid contributor. Both sides can try each other on and see how they fit. Perhaps he stays beyond this season, perhaps not. But scoring comes and goes for the VGK, and adding another threat to the lineup to help distribute production even more can only help.
Whatever the final price paid for Kyle Palmieri he has the potential to be that mid-tier piece that pushes a very good team over the edge and into a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.