SUNRISE, Fla. – The New Jersey Devils came into the 2015 NHL Draft looking to acquire a young forward with NHL experience who could fit into the up-tempo style that coach John Hynes wants to play.
Kyle Palmieri was the perfect fit. It doesn't hurt that he hails from northern New Jersey.
The Devils traded one of their two second-round draft picks this year and one of their two third-round picks in the 2016 draft to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday for Palmieri, who is 24 years old and coming off a season in which he had 29 points, including 14 goals, in 57 games.
Palmieri has one year remaining on his contract, which carries a salary-cap charge of $1.47 million, according to war-on-ice.com. He can be a restricted free agent following the 2015-16 season.
"He's at the right age for us," Devils general manager Ray Shero said. "The style of play, he plays with speed and can really shoot a puck. Plus his contractual situation in terms of having a year left and two years restricted is good for us.
"The attraction is the age, the way he plays the game, the way we want to play. I think it'll be beneficial for both of us."
Ducks general manager Bob Murray said he likes Palmieri as a player and a person, but he felt he had to trade him because he was concerned about having to give him a bigger contract after next season, particularly with the plethora of players who will need new contracts.
Anaheim's potential free agents after this coming season include forwards Ryan Kesler (unrestricted), Rickard Rakell (restricted) and Jiri Sekac (restricted), defensemen Sami Vatanen (restricted), Simon Despres (restricted), Hampus Lindholm (restricted) and Josh Manson (restricted), and goalies Frederik Andersen (restricted) and John Gibson (restricted).
"As I've said often lately, the problem when your guys are drafted very well and you get a bunch of good young players, all of a sudden they accumulate and you can't sign them all the same," Murray said. "After [Palmieri] gets 20 goals next year, which I think he will, then I'd really be in trouble. So this is just being proactive to stay ahead of the curve, get something for him before that happens and then he's really tough to move at that point."
Palmieri struggled to establish a firm role with the Ducks, playing up and down the lineup, including at times with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as well as Kesler. Shero isn't sure where he'll fit in as far as in a top-six role or not with the Devils, but he knows he'll play a big role.
Palmieri, who from Montvale, N.J., has 89 points in 198 career NHL games, all with Anaheim. He has 12 points in 33 playoff games, including four in 16 games last season.
"The way with Kyle in his career, the good players he was playing with and playing ahead of him sometimes, he's had to play in different situations and play with different linemates, up and down the lineup," Shero said. "So I don't want to pigeonhole him into one spot and say he's this or that. He'll kind of define his role himself."
Hynes previously coached Palmieri with the United States National Team Development Program from 2007-09. Shero said that factor also weighed into his decision to acquire Palmieri.
"It was a little while ago, but certainly he knows Kyle well and having coached him is an added benefit," Shero said. "Kyle was younger then, but he's still only 24 years old now. John, I asked him his opinion on him as a player and as a person, what he's like on and off the ice, and we made the deal so it couldn't be too bad.
"In terms of fit, that's the kind of guy we were looking for."