Earlier today, the Devils and restricted free agent Kyle Palmieri reached agreement on a new five-year contract worth a reported $23.5 million. His average cap hit comes out to $4.65 million per year. The payout is as follows:
’16-17 $4.5 million
’17-18 $4.5 million
’18-19 $5 million
’19-20 $5 million
’20-21 $4.25 million
Acquired from the Ducks at last year’s NHL Draft for a 2015 second round pick and a 2016 third round pick, the 25-year old from Smithtown, New York broke out in his first year with New Jersey establishing career bests in goals (30), assists (27), points (57) while playing all 82 games.
The 30 goals tied with Adam Henrique for the team lead while the 57 points led the Devils in scoring. Palmieri was one of four Devils to play every game. Only captain Andy Greene remains while Adam Larsson was traded for Taylor Hall and Stephen Gionta won’t return.
With GM Ray Shero referring to Palmieri as “a foundation building block who will only help the Devils get better,” they are on the right track this summer.
The blockbuster acquisition of Hall from the Oilers for Larsson has Jersey fans excited about the team’s prospects. Adding a proven scorer should bolster an anemic offense that ranked dead last in ’15-16 averaging a paltry 2.22 goals/game. Had they been in the middle of the pack with Cory Schneider’s goaltending, they would’ve made the playoffs. The Devils finished with 84 points. Twelve behind the wildcard Flyers and nine back of the wildcard Red Wings.
Shero has also added former Pen defenseman Ben Lovejoy to replace the departure of David Schlemko to San Jose. Free agent center Vernon Fiddler was brought in as a fourth line upgrade for Gionta. Former Pen Beau Bennett was acquired in the 2016 Draft for a third round pick (Connor Hall). Devante Smith-Pelly was re-signed to a two-year deal worth $2.6 million.
With still plenty of cap space to re-sign restricted free agent Reid Boucher along with first-year pros Steven Santini, Miles Wood, John Quenneville signed and top prospect Pavel Zacha likely a year away, things look bright in Newark.
The Devils are also waiting on Patrik Elias to recover and see if he wants to return for one final year. His decision might not come until training camp. The all-time franchise leader in goals (408), assists (617) and points (1025) turned 40 in April. It would be nice to see him go out on his own terms. Last year, injuries limited him to eight points (2-6-8) in 16 games.