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Devils captain role would be 'huge honor,' Palmieri says

Veteran forward feels he's been leader to younger players

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Kyle Palmieri said it would be quite an honor to be named captain of the New Jersey Devils.

"I think it's something that I've learned a lot from the guys that wore the 'C' on teams that I've played for," the forward said Tuesday, "and that's something that if it's a possibility, and they decided to make a decision moving forward, then it would be a huge honor for me.

"I haven't thought a lot about it. It's kind of one of those things that it reveals itself. There's a lot of guys that have made steps in the last couple of years in forming what we want as an organization."

Palmieri has been an alternate captain the past two seasons. The Devils captaincy has been vacant since defenseman Andy Greene was traded to the New York Islanders for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and defenseman prospect David Quenneville on Feb. 16. Greene was captain for five seasons.  

Palmieri, who has one season remaining on a five-year, $23.25 million contract (average annual value $4.65 million), led the Devils with 25 goals, 45 points, 11 power-play goals and 18 power-play points in 65 games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The 29-year-old has scored at least 24 goals in each of his five seasons with New Jersey. 

The forward, who played his first five NHL seasons with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Devils on June 29, 2015, said he's always enjoyed being a leader.

"I think the competitive nature that's required to play in this league, to get into this league, everybody has it, but you want to be a guy who leads the way," he said. "I want to do my part individually, whether that's being a voice for some of the young guys or being a guy who can be looked upon to be there and work hard every night and compete. I think that's one of the things that you want to make sure you bring every day to the rink."

New Jersey is one of five teams without a captain (Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Vegas Golden Knights).

The Devils (28-29-12) finished tied with the Buffalo Sabres for 13th in the Eastern Conference this season (.493 points percentage) and are not among the 24 teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan.

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