Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports

2020 Flames Trade Targets: Kyle Palmieri

In the midst of a painfully underwhelming season, one week away from the 2020 NHL trade deadline, the Calgary Flames find themselves in the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference. After staying put during last year’s deadline, it’ll be interesting to see what Brad Treliving does prior to the 1 p.m. MT trade deadline on Feb. 24.

For those interested, this was actually supposed to be the third part of the Trade Targets series; with an in-depth analysis on Tyler Toffoli and Dylan DeMelo initially scheduled to release Feb. 18. Obviously, due to both players being traded this will no longer be the case.

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Following the injuries suffered to Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic, the Flames have seen their blueline weaken dramatically. This begs us to wonder, do the Calgary Flames still trade for a right-handed right-winger, or do they attempt to shore up their blueline? In this series, Trade Targets, we’ll be diving into different trade possibilities and how the acquisitions could impact the Flames going forward.

Kyle Palmieri

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The “first” in our series is New Jersey Devils right-winger, Kyle Palmieri. Hailing from Smithtown, New York, the 29-year-old sniper was drafted back in 2009 at 26th overall by the Anaheim Ducks and has been a core part of New Jersey’s forward core for the past 5 years.

After the 2019-20 season, Palmieri still has another year left on his deal at $4,650,000. This is the ideal player contract wise, as Brad Treliving has made it clear in the past that he’s not a fan of rentals. The Calgary Flames brass may require New Jersey to retain some of Palmieri’s salary, as it exceeds the cap space opened up by the Michael Frolìk by $350,000. Furthermore, extra cap space would allow Treliving to bolster their blue line with depth following the injuries to Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic.

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Advanced stats and past performance

Palmieri currently sits first in scoring in the New Jersey Devils organization, with 21 goals and 41 points in 54 games. He would be tied for third in scoring on the Flames with Sean Monahan, giving Geoff Ward’s staff another top-six option moving forward. Palmieri is also one of three Devils who have a positive plus/minus this season, second on the team with a plus-4 rating. Below are some advanced stats that Palmieri has posted for the 2019-20 season.

CF% CF% Rel Fenwick%
48.1% +2.4 50.0%

Playing for a lowly New Jersey Devils team has led to some rather pedestrian advanced stats for Palmieri. That being said, he currently sits third on the team in CF% as well as CF% Rel and first for Fenwick% (among players with a minimum 10 games played). The Smithtown product’s CF% Rel suggests that his team vastly outperforms their opponent at a much higher rate with Palmieri on the ice as opposed to him of it. The Flames desperately require another forward that can drive play, as their star players have under-performed massively in doing so this season, and Palmieri looks to fit the bill. Furthermore, as a solid two-way player, Palmieri’s versatility allows him to play up and down the line-up should any injuries occur.

What would the Flames have to give up?

The recent Blake Coleman trade, for which the 28-year-old winger was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first-round pick in 2020 and prospect Nolan Foote, has seemingly set the market for a top-six winger with term remaining. Palmieri most likely comes at a cheaper rate since his contract is $3 million more than the aforementioned Coleman’s and that he also has a no trade clause, hindering a team’s ability to deal him before his contract expires.

Look for the Flames to potentially part ways with a conditional second (the condition being that if the Flames reach the Western Conference Finals and Palmieri plays 50% of the playoff games than the pick turns into a first rounder), a 2020 third-round pick, and goaltending prospect Jon Gillies. Other than Mackenzie Blackwood, the Devils don’t have any goaltending prospects that seem to have any NHL upside. While Gillies’ progression has clearly stalled in Stockton, perhaps a change of scenery can get the former NCAA champion going. Furthermore, this frees up a spot for Tyler Parsons in Stockton, giving the starting reigns to Nick Schneider down in Kansas, potentially propelling the development of both prospects. The asking price may be driven up due to the fact that the Boston Bruins are also believed to be serious contenders in the Palmieri sweepstakes.

Where would he fit in?

A trade for a right-winger likely confirms Elias Lindholm’s fate as a center moving forward. A potential forward lineup could be the following:

Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan/Elias Lindholm Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Mangiapane Sean Monahan/Elias Lindholm Matthew Tkachuk
Dillon Dube Derek Ryan Milan Lucic
Zac Rinaldo/Mark Jankowski Mikael Backlund Tobias Rieder/Buddy Robinson

With the excellent consistency and play of the third line, I would be hesitant to break it up when the Flames are at a period where they desperately require some stability. Thus, Mikael Backlund would be getting demoted to the fourth line with Mark Jankowski being shifted over to the wing or in some cases be phased out of the lineup should the Flames be playing against a heavier team, in which case Rinaldo would draw in. As a speedy aggressive forechecker, Palmieri would give the Flames tons of flexibility going forward as he is a player that can perform well up and down the lineup. Furthermore, the former 30 goal scorer also gives the coaching staff another power-play weapon, with the right-handed sniper first in power-play time out of all Devils players.

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Ending remarks

The Flames organization has, for quite some time, been desperately searching for a star right-winger to round out the first line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. While they seemingly found one in Lindholm, acquiring a versatile forward in Palmieri would allow for the Flames to bolster their center and winger depth by giving Lindholm the opportunity to play down the middle, further spreading the offense throughout the lineup.

One concern with Palmieri is that his modified NTC includes a 8 team no-trade list. Should the Flames be on that list, it’ll nix any possible trade involving Kyle Palmieri much like the Nazem Kadri fiasco over the summer of 2019. It’ll be interesting to see if the Flames brass target a forward, defencemen, both, or neither. That being said, the speed and scoring touch that Palmieri possesses would be bound to get the dangerous tandem of Monahan and Gaudreau going.