Islanders acquire Zajac, Palmieri in deal with Devils

NHL

New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri (21) celebrates his goal with Damon Severson (28), Travis Zajac (19), and Nico Hischier (13) in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

NEW YORK — For the second straight year at the NHL trade deadline, the New York Islanders have looked about hour south to bolster their roster ahead of a run at the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years.

The Isles acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, in exchange for forwards A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, the Islanders first round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. New Jersey agreed to retain 50% of both Palmieri and Zajac’s salaries in the deal.

Zajac finishes his Devils career tied for third in regular season goals with Bobby Holik at 202 and was the franchise’s last remaining link to their most recent Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2012. With New Jersey facing elimination in round one against Florida, Zajac scored a game-winning goal in double overtime to take Game 6 and eventually lead to a series win.

Palmieri, a Montvale, New Jersey native and one of the few Garden Staters to suit up for Jersey’s team, was considered one of the prizes up front on the trade market. He’s scored between 24 and 30 goals in every one of the five full seasons he’s played in Newark. He has eight goals and 17 points in 34 games this season.

The last time the two clubs traded, it was at last year’s deadline when New York acquired New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene, who remains with the club. The Islanders sit at 54 points, tied with the Washington Capitals for first in the NHL’s East Division. The Devils appear set to play the NHL’s draft lottery for another season, sitting with 32 points in 7th place in the East.

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