The New Jersey Devils have locked down their leading scorer from 2015-16, giving right winger Kyle Palmieri a five-year contract worth an average of $4.65 million per season. Palmieri, who was raised in New Jersey, put up 30 goals and 57 points for the Devils, but now the pressure is on to repeat and even surpass that. Luckily, the U.S. NTDP product will have some more help this time.
The Devils had a dearth of talent up front this past season, while injuries to Mike Cammalleri and Travis Zajac made matters worse. No team scored fewer goals than New Jersey (184), but there's a lot of hope thanks to the trade that brought Taylor Hall over from Edmonton. Hall is one of the top left wingers in the game today and whether coach John Hynes puts together a top line featuring both him and Palmieri or spreads the love over two units, Palmieri should see more freedom. Only Zajac faced tougher competition among New Jersey's forwards this past season.
Palmieri led the squad in power play goals, points and ice time and New Jersey was actually top-10 with the man advantage. While 2015-16 was the first time the quick and tenacious Palmieri put up such solid offensive numbers in the NHL, his results may have been situational. Prior to this past season, he had been in Anaheim, where he never seemed to get on track with the Ducks.
Now, the Devils appear to have the beginnings of an attack. They already have a fantastic goalie in Cory Schneider, so the big question revolves around whether youngsters Steven Santini and Damon Severson can bolster the blueline. At the least, Palmieri knows he is valued by the organization and has all the motivation to prove he's not a one-season wonder.