After wrapping up his second NHL recall this season and making the 2,300-miles trek from Anaheim back to Syracuse, N.Y., forward Kyle Palmieri
is again a member of the AHL's Crunch -- and maybe just in time.
Earlier this month, the 2009 first-round draft pick was selected to represent the Eastern Conference Team in the AHL All-Star Classic, his second All-Star selection in as many seasons. But this year's event is scheduled for Jan. 29-30 in Atlantic City – a short drive from his hometown of Montvale, N.J.
"Being named to the All-Star team for the second year in a row and this being my second year pro, this is a big accomplishment for me and I'm pretty excited for it," Palmieri said. "It'll be a pretty cool experience for me and my family and friends to be a part of."
Determined by committees of AHL coaches, the 48 players tapped for this year's All-Star Classic represent the best that the NHL's top development league has to offer. With 21 goals, 10 assists and a plus-15 rating in 23 games this season, Palmieri joins the elite group as the sole representative of the Ducks' organization.
"It's an honor," he said. "The AHL is a great league with some really great players."
Palmieri, who turns 21 on Feb. 1, came out of the U.S. National Team Development Program and spent a year at Notre Dame before turning pro in 2010. His return to Syracuse on Jan. 17 ended his most recent NHL stint with the Ducks; Palmieri has one goal and one assist in 10 NHL games this season, and has made 20 appearances with Anaheim since making his big-league debut on Nov. 3, 2010.
As the second half of his second season approaches, Palmieri is established as one of the top offensive producers in the AHL, and one of the top NHL prospects in the league. Since March 18, Palmieri has scored 36 goals in 37 games, adding 15 assists and a plus-25 rating in that time.
He's on pace to better his rookie totals of 29 goals, 22 assists and 51 points, put up in 62 games with the Crunch last season. But whether it's in Syracuse or Anaheim, Palmieri said he will continue to stick to his game and focus on his goal -- helping his team win games. While the Ducks have struggled to a 15-22-7 record, Palmieri returns to Syracuse to find the Crunch three points out of eighth place in the AHL's Eastern Conference.
"Obviously it's kind of a weird situation being up and down with two different teams and two different places in the standings," Palmieri said. "But whether it's individual success or team success, it's [about] making a playoff run."
Palmieri began this season in Syracuse by scoring six points – including a hat trick – in his first two games. For his efforts, he was named the AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 16. He's been virtually unstoppable since, with more multiple-point games (10) than scoreless games (eight).
Palmieri is more than willing to share the credit for his success.
"I attribute it a lot to my linemates," he said of center Nick Bonino
and winger Patrick Maroon
, both of whom have also spent time in Anaheim this season. "There's been a lot of movement [between Syracuse and Anaheim], but I think overall we've read off each other and played well together.
"That's all it takes to be successful."