By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on Twitter @jackgotsell
The Bruins have added Craig Smith this offseason, who would look great next to Coyle and Bjork. He is what he is; he is a third line winger and has been his entire career. Does the question still loom who is going to be David Krejci’s second-line right-wing? The best answer, yes, and it is Kyle Palmeri.
If you look at the Bruins lineup, the top-nine is full, and a player would have to move. Reportedly, contract extensions between the New Jersey Devils and Palmeri have not gone as the Devils hoped. Palmeri is a right-wing, so DeBrusk would not be the player to move, leaving Ondrej Kase or Anders Bjork. So which one makes more sense?
Kase is an RFA at the end of this season and has shown an inability to finish in Boston, much like his time in Anaheim. The Devils could be tempted to take Kase as an RFA because they would have some control over the 24-year-old right-wing that could be part of their future as they try to rebuild. Kase would not be enough to get Palmeri on his own, and the Bruins would need to give up an additional pick or a prospect.
Is Palmeri worth that price? Absolutely! Palmeri has one year remaining on his deal but is the proven finisher that Krejci needs to create some secondary scoring in this closing window. With the addition of Craig Smith, the third line is set, and Kase is not a top-six player; he may be at some point; however, the Bruins window is running out of time. The Bruins could send Urho Vaakanainen to the Devils as he is a highly-touted prospect that has not displayed the ability necessary to crack the highly talented Bruins prospect pool.
With Zboril, Clifton, and Lauzon all looking as if they will get their NHL shot this year, Vaakanainen is on the outside looking in, which makes him expendable with the Bruins deep defensive prospect depth. There is still a risk in moving Urho as his troubles stem from his concussion he suffered last season, and being fully healthy, he could still crack an NHL lineup sooner rather than later. After signing Kevan Miller, which takes away from one of the prospects ice time, like it or not, it makes Urho more likely the expendable guy.
So why Palmeri and not another winger around the league? Palmeri has a low cap hit for his skill level with a cap hit of 4.65 AAV. The right-winger would likely be a one year rental in what could possibly be the last year of Krejci. Krejci has not played with a true finisher since those days of Nathan Horton, and Bruins fans know how that season ended with a Stanley Cup.
Palmeri has over 20 goals and 20 assists in each of his last five seasons, not playing with a talented center like Krejci. Palmeri will likely come with a similar cap hit to Mike Hoffman without the personal baggage or defensive liabilities of Hoffman. In an offseason without any spectacular moves, a lazy forward like Patrik Laine or a player with red flags like Hoffman is not the answer; it’s Kyle Palmeri. Even if the Bruins did not get it right the first time with Kase getting it right with the right right-wing in Palmeri could the answer we have been waiting for since Horton.