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THREE THINGS: Zajac and Palmieri Traded to Islanders

Two long-time Devils head to Islanders before deadline

by Amanda Stein amandacstein /

Trades can be difficult.

They can be hard to come by, they can be hard to come together and they can be emotionally tough too. 

On Wednesday evening, the New Jersey Devils sent two long-time members of the franchise to the New York Islanders in exchange for two prospects and picks, which includes a 2021 first-round pick. 

Travis Zajac departs the Devils franchise for the first time in his career after 1000-plus NHL games, while Kyle Palmieri joins the Islanders after six seasons in his native New Jersey. 

Here are Three Things about the trade that sent Zajac and Palmieri to the Islanders. 

1. What and Who Is Arriving?

A coveted first-round draft pick in the 2021 NHL Draft is a big prize for the Devils as they now hold two first-round picks in the upcoming draft. Last year the Devils made three selections in the first round. This additional pick will bring the Devils current total to five picks in the first round through two drafts. 

Of that first-round pick, Fitzgerald said 

"I hope it's the 32nd. I really do. I hope, hope these two gentlemen can win a Cup and we get the 32nd (pick)."

The Devils also acquired a conditional fourth-round pick which would become a third-rounder if the Islanders make the Stanley Cup Final.

Additionally, New Jersey now has nine picks in the upcoming draft. The club has its own picks in rounds one, three, four, and six; the New York Islanders' selections in rounds one and two; Buffalo's fifth-round pick and Arizona's third- and seventh-round selections. 

Two prospects are also part o the deal, with the acquisition of American forward Mason Jobst and Canadian left-winger A.J. Greer. 

Both players have been playing with the Islanders American Hockey League team this season. Jobst, who is 27, appeared in 44 games with Bridgeport last season, while Greer, originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, has 209 games of AHL experience with 59 goals and 70 assists. Greer has suited up in 37 NHL games over the course of three NHL seasons. 

Both players will report to the Binghamton Devils.

2. Who is Leaving?

This is a tough one and there's certainly a lot of emotion attached to it as the deal sees the departure of two great Devils and one life-long Devil. 

Travis Zajac has exemplified absolutely everything it truly means to be a New Jersey Devil. No article will do justice to what and who Travis has meant to the Devils franchise. In 2004 he was the Devils' 20th-overall pick in the first round and has appeared in 1,023 games. He is one of only four members of the franchise to have appeared in 1000-plus games. His 202 goals are tied for third all-time with Bobby Holik and his 550 points place him third on the all-time points list. 

It has been six seasons since the Devils acquired Kyle Palmieri, a native of New Jersey. In that span, he played in 397 games with the franchise, with 140 goals, and was a representative of the Devils at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. 

The two players will head to Long Island and join former teammate and Devils captain Andy Greene, who was traded at the 2020 deadline to the Islanders. 

Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the Islanders, drafted Zajac and signed Greene as a free agent.

Video: RAW | Fitzgerald on Trade w/ NYI

3. Never Easy 

In order to facilitate the trade, general manager Tom Fitzgerald had to ask Travis Zajac to waive his no-trade clause in his contract. For a life-long Devil, that's not something that's easy to ask of someone. 

"Especially a player like Travis Zajac," Fitzgerald said when asked about the difficulty of asking a player to waive their no-trade clause, "but for what he's done for the organization, his wife Nikki and his kids and he's been part of this community for a long, long time, and will be moving forward. So, of course, it is (difficult). That's why you go to these players, and let them think about things, let them tell you what they want to do, and like I said if Travis wanted to continue to play and not make the playoffs, that was his right to stay, but I know he's a hungry professional, wants a chance to win a Cup as every hockey player wants and this may be the year he does."

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