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NHL Trade Buzz: Palmieri out of Devils game for precautionary reasons

Blues may seek scoring help; Sharks' decisions could be impacted by Vlasic injury

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are eight days remaining until the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET; April 12). Here's a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

New Jersey Devils

Kyle Palmieri was held out of a 5-4 home loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday for precautionary reasons, the Devils said.

The right wing's agency, Bartlett Hockey, tweeted that Palmieri was kept out of the game in anticipation of a trade in the coming days or week.

Palmieri is a pending unrestricted free agent who has been the subject of trade rumors. He has scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 34 games this season.

The Devils are seventh in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, 11 points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.

"We all know it's that time of year," New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said after the Washington game. "I think the players know that. I think we've got a young group that maybe don't realize how hard it is for us, for management, for myself to not have a guy like that in the lineup, but it is a product of where we're at right now. We haven't won enough games to put us in position where we'd be in better shape. We spent too much time this year talking about missed opportunities and missing opportunities. I'll just use the phrase it is what it is right now, and it's a hard place to be."

The Athletic reported Saturday that Palmieri and the Devils were talking about trying to come to an agreement on a new contract, but those talks clearly haven't materialized into anything tangible and now a trade appears likely.

"It's weird, obviously," New Jersey defenseman Ryan Murray said "I think the writing's on the wall sometimes. I think there's so much media nowadays, you hear the rumors and everything going on, so I don't know if guys were super surprised. Obviously, [Palmieri] is a great guy, and it's tough when he's not coming to the rink because he's a huge leader for this group. I don't know what's going to happen there, I don't want to speak too much on it, but not having him there is obviously a hole."

Tweet from @BartlettHockey: Can confirm that Kyle Palmieri is being held out of Devils lineup today in anticipation of a trade in the coming days or week(s).

St. Louis Blues

It's fair to wonder if the Blues' prolonged scoring slump, which coach Craig Berube said might be wearing on the psyche of the players, will prompt action to address the offense before the trade deadline. 

"It definitely does become mental," Berube said following a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

The Blues have scored two or fewer goals in 10 of their past 12 games. They're 0-5-1 in their past six games and have dropped into a fifth-place tie with the San Jose Sharks in the eight-team Honda West Division, one point behind the Arizona Coyotes. Each team has 19 games remaining.

The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told he thought the team was good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup going into the season, but injuries and inconsistent play, particularly on the power play (18.2 percent, 21st in the NHL) and penalty kill (75.0 percent, 26th) has him questioning that.

"I still believe in the group, but we put ourselves in a position now where we're in playoff mode today," Armstrong said. "That's the reality of it. I woke up today and looked at the standings and we're out of the playoffs. So, if you want to get back in you've got to win games."

Sportsnet reported last week that the Blues might be one of the teams checking in on what it will take to acquire forward Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres. 


San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have played their way back into the playoff race in the eight-team Honda West Division with wins in four straight games and six of eight since March 22, including four in a row against the Los Angeles Kings.

They are tied with the St. Louis Blues for fifth place, one point behind the Arizona Coyotes. The top four teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It could be enough for them to contemplate adding before the trade deadline rather than subtracting by potentially moving forward Patrick Marleau, who said last week he'd be open to the idea of being traded to a contender if presented with an option.

"We're in a spot right now with 19 games left to make a push and see where we end up," Sharks captain Logan Couture said. 

However, the Sharks' next move before the deadline could be impacted by the upper-body injury defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic sustained in the first period of a 3-2 win against the Kings on Saturday.

Vlasic played 5:35 over seven shifts in the first period but didn't play in the second or third. Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Vlasic, who had scored five points (one goal, four assists) and was averaging 18:09 of ice time in 36 games going into Saturday, will be evaluated Sunday.

Sharks defensemen have been relatively healthy this season, with Vlasic, Brent Burns, Mario Ferraro and Nikolai Knyzhov playing in all 37 games. Erik Karlsson missed four and Radim Simek missed six.

If Vlasic is out for any time, it would test the Sharks at the position and create a potential conundrum before the deadline while they try to determine if they're a buyer or seller.

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