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New York Islanders Judgement of Palmieri, Jordan Eberle Script

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New York Islanders, Kyle Palmieri

The New York Islanders are at the point where management needs to evaluate players and start game-planning for next season. The Islanders’ first half of the season was a disaster, given the circumstances, and the team could never get into a rhythm. Most players up and down the lineup have struggled. Even with the team back healthy for the end of the first half and the start of the second half, disastrous defeats continue to occur, with each defeat emphasizing different issues with this New York Islanders club.

It’s easy to look at certain players, look at their first-half numbers and make rash decisions on how to proceed.

One player who has bared the brunt, and for good reason, is forward Kyle Palmieri. He’s just 30 games into a four-year deal but he’s been far from stellar.

Should his future with the Islanders be judged on the first half of this chaotic season?

“I thought early in the year he was getting a lot of chances. And I think if you asked him, he probably would feel the same way he was getting chances but a little bit snake-bitten early..” Trotz said Tuesday morning.” I just talked to him. Let’s forget about the first half of the season. Let’s focus on, you know, just the last half of this regular season and, and see if we can get a little more traction, a little more production.”

Trotz also added that there’s a lot of pressure based on Palmieri’s contract and what his role was supposed to be the season.

“I think he’s playing with a little bit of a burden. You know, he wants to do well. He signed up with us after this last year, after being a free agent, and he wants to prove that he is worthy of that, and he’s had a real struggle…And I said, you know, let’s get rid of that burden. You’re a good hockey player. You’re a productive hockey player.”

And after two games of being a healthy scratch, Palmieri was back in the lineup for his first contest since before the All-Star break.

In Palmieri’s 13:35 TOI in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, he notched two goals, his first tying the contest at one in the first period and his second tied the contest in the third. He had three shots on goal, two hits, and no turnovers.

“That’s great and all, but at the end of the day, my job is to help this team win,” Kyle Palmieri said on his goals. “We didn’t bring our best stuff for tonight, and we knew how big of a game it was for us. Every game is huge for us.”

And Palmieri said all the right things. After not being given opportunities and missing time with injury and everything that has gone on this season, scoring two goals, regardless of the opponent, has to feel like a sense of relief for Palmieri.

The way Palmieri’s contract season (2020-21) started, the way the 2021 playoffs went, and the way the first half began following his big payday follows the same script as what occurred with Jordan Eberle before his contract with the Islanders and his play in his first season following it.

Palmieri has not lived up to the four-year $20 million ($5 mliion AAV) deal he signed this past offseason as through 30 games, he has just three goals. He did not score his first goal until the 13th game of the season.

After Jordan Eberle signed his five-year, $27.5 million deal ($5.5 million) back in the summer of 2019, it took him 14 games before his first goal of the season, with only three goals at the 30-game mark.

Kyle Palmieri entered this season after one of the worst regular-season marks in his NHL career. He was taken off the first line in New Jersey and scored only eight goals with nine assists in 34 games before being dealt to the New York Islanders. The final 17 regular-season games did not showcase any changes to his game, with just two goals and two assists.

Then came the playoffs.

Kyle Palmieri scored seven goals and had two assists in 19 games. Although he did not contribute a point in the seven-game semi-final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he played a part in the Islanders ability to get that far.

And because of that postseason success and his track record, New York Islanders general manager decided to keep Palmieri and made a previous move in, leaving Jordan Eberle unprotected for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

When the 2018-19 regular season came to a close, Jordan Eberle had failed to score 20 goals for the first time in five years, with 19 goals and 18 assists in 78 games.

Jordan Eberle had been moved down in the lineup, having played over 507 minutes with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson as a second line. He only played 191 minutes on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee.

And with that being a contract year, entering the summer with those numbers would not have landed him the contract he was looking for.

However, Eberle was exceptional in the 2019 postseason. He scored four goals and registered five assists in eight playoff games. He played with Lee and Barzal on the top line.

Then came a five-year, $27.5 million deal, an AAV of $5.5 million.

After just three goals in the first 30 games of that season, Eberle scored 13 goals in the final 28 games.

Palmieri had two goals to start his second half, and yes, they came against a struggling Buffalo Sabres team with underwhelming goaltending. But for Palmieri, those two goals could be the confidence he needed to have a strong finish this season.

There are 39 games left on the schedule, and it will be what Palmieri does in those games that show if he deserves to be part of the future.

Buying Palmieri out of his contract does not make much sense, as the Islanders would owe him $1.66 million per year until the 2025-2026 season. And looking to move a guy where seemingly everything has gone wrong for him and the New York Islanders this season seemed like jumping the gun.

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