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What to Do with Kyle Pamieri?

The 28 year old winger will be UFA after next season— do we re-sign him, and for what, or sell high at the trade deadline?

New Jersey Devils v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Devils contract with Kyle Palmieri has one more season left on it. Palmieri signed a 5 year deal with New Jersey back in 2016 with an AAV of 4.65mil. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021 season, so the Devils front office has a decision to make.

Lets Run the Numbers:

The Salary: He’s currently on a 5 year, 4.65 million dollar contract, signed as an RFA

The Stats:

Palmieri is rated a 74.30 by Corsica Hockey, ranked at 35th among forwards.

2019-20: 13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points
GF% 53.62%, xG% 51.76%, SCF% 48.82%, CF% 47.40
ixG 10.2, HDCF 48, Shots 102, IPP 67.57%
Takeaways: 24, Giveaways 25
Penalties: 9, Penalties Drawn: 9
Possession Entries: 62%
5v5 offense: 14% better with
PP offense: 47% better with

Forwards with Similar IPP:
Jeff Skinner, Mikko Rantanen, Sean Monahan, Jordan Greenway, Brett Connolly, Warren Foegele, Alex Killorn

Average AAV of the above players: 4.89 million, ranging from Rantanen and Skinner at the top with 9.25 and 9 million respectively, and Greenway, Connolly and Foegele at the bottom with 920k, 850k, and 750k each.

The Analysis:

I chose IPP to compare Palmieri’s impact because at the heart of it all, Palmieri is a shooter, and his job is to score. It’s tough to compare his scorecard or possession numbers to other forwards who played on much better teams, whereas IPP presented a good snapshot of his contribution to the team’s productivity despite the Devils overall lackluster performance. The comparison presents us with an interesting range of players— players who have done a lot on extremely good teams, and players who have done a lot on not so great teams (*cough* BUFFALO *cough*), big name players with huge contracts and some younger, not so well known guys. So where does this put Palmieri in terms of a contract negotiation?

On one hand, the Devils absolutely need what Palmieri has to offer. He’s a shooter on a team full of playmakers and a veteran on a team full of rookies. He’s defensively responsible, battles hard consistently, contributes to special teams, and can make clutch plays. He’s been a lock for our top line right wing position for a reason— he’s the best we have. There was some talk about trading him at the deadline this season, and while I can understand the temptation— he’d likely fetch an extremely valuable trade price and there’s a lot of pieces we need as a team— I don’t think this is the right option for the Devils. He’d only be a rental trade if we were to let him go this season, so we wouldn’t get top dollar for his worth, and he currently solves a large talent hole in a roster made of Swiss cheese (no offense, Nico). Put simply, the Devils need to find a way to keep Kyle Palmieri. On the other hand, Palmieri has not been Mikko Rantanen or even Jeff Skinner. He’s not a 9 million dollar player. He’s the support beam for 9 million dollar players.

Palmieri does have some room to negotiate, just not to that tune. He’s a leader for us, one of if not the most consistent forward on the team, and a valuable talent that will surely draw many offers from other teams. He also has some of the Devils recent dealings to consider— we just paid Wayne Simmonds 5 million dollars. Though not the same style of player for sure, its tough to consider a world in which Wayne Simmonds should be paid more than Kyle Palmieri. I’d have to imagine Palmieri’s agent would feel the same way. Since his current contract isn’t far below that, I’d expect any new contract with him to look at least above 5mil. With the cap space the Devils have available, this isn’t that much of a problem. I personally wouldn’t blink too much up to around 6.5mil depending on the term, though I’d prefer to stick around 5.5 with performance bonuses which would probably suit both sides.

As far as term— Palmieri is 28, so we can assume he has roughly half his career left. I can see the Devils considering a lot of short term contracts while they eek out the rough patches in the current system, but I highly doubt Palmieri will be one of them— he’s proven his worth to the team and he’s both old enough and young enough to not need to be interested in a bridge deal. He could push for a shorter term given the struggles of the organization lately. The team could push for a longer term given his age and his value. I’d imagine a fair middle ground for both parties might sit around 6-7 years, and I’d be more than happy with that.

The Verdict:

Definitely re-sign him.

Pay him almost anything he wants.

Okay not really.

Let’s shoot for a 5-6mil AAV for 6-7 years.

Your Thoughts:

Is re-signing him for long term a smart lock, or a risk at this point in our rebuild? What would you pay him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for reading!