Player Name/position: Kyle Palmieri, RW/LW
Overall Grade: B+
Contract Status: RFA with a previous cap hit of $1.025 million
Regular Season Stats: With Norfolk 33GP 13-12-25, minus-13; With Anaheim 42GP, 10-11-21, plus-2, 12:19 TOI/G
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 3-2-5, plus-5, 10:34 TOI/G
Offense: It seems like we've been waiting for this season to come from Palmieri for a while. He's still not on the pace that he was the past two seasons in Syracuse (0.82 and 1.14 points/game in 2011 and 2012 respectively) but he did finally translate some of that success to the big stage this year.
The one thing you need to know about Kyle Palmieri, if you didn't already, is that he is a finisher. I just re-watched all of his goals from this season and aside from a lucky bounce here or there (Hello Brendan Smith!) the vast majority are the result of pretty passing plays. He's not a guy who creates a ton of space on his own or goes to the real dirty areas to score. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, he does well to get open and get his shot off as quickly as possible. In the past I thought he had a little bit of the Dan Sexton disease of being more worried about getting the shot away instead of on net, but he seems to have harnessed it a bit.
Defense: Defense is a secondary concern from Palms. Going into the year I could pretty much care less what he did in his own zone as long as he started putting up some points. The Ducks only had five players with positive corsi ratings this year and Palmieri ended up sixth with -0.79. Not bad, although I wonder how being shuffled up and down the lineup all year affected that number.
However, if we're talking about self defense, dude could use a little work. He got caught with his head down pretty badly a couple of times this season. Most notably he got tagged by Raffi Torres while checking the puck for Gary Bettman's signature that caused him to miss five games with an upper body injury *cough*concussion*cough*
Highlight of the Season: As you might expect Palmieri had his most success while riding left wing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, including his first career hat trick on Feb 27. As noted above the third goal was a beautiful tic-tac-toe play on the PP.
Expectations for Next Year: Palmieri is an RFA and earned a raise from his $1.025M cap hit, but probably not a huge one. I'm thinking something in the $2-2.5 million range for 2-3 years. As I mentioned before, he played with just about everyone this season, so it's somewhat difficult to pinpoint exactly where he'll fit in, but his versatility allows Bruce Boudreau to shuffle the lines, for better or for worse.
He's shown he can do great stuff with Perry and Getzlaf, but I'd rather see a bigger body (i.e. DSP or Maroon) get a shot up there. Against all logic, he worked well with Bobby Ryan and Teemu for a short period early in the year, but I don't want to see a line of three shooters with no distributor. If i had to pick two guys to stick him with I think i'd go with Emerson Etem and Nick Bonino. Etem can get the puck up the ice and do the work down low then Bones can find Palmieri lurking in the shadows for the quick snapper. Of course, that poses the question of where to put Bobby and/or Teemu, but that's not necessarily a bad problem to have.