As many people expected, the New Jersey Devils find themselves at the bottom of the league again. What started as a season with promise with a young core has spiraled into another disastrous season. Two names stick out between Devils fans the most for the trade deadline: Kyle Palmieri and Nikita Gusev. Here’s a sum-up of where they could go when the trade deadline rolls around.
Kyle Palmieri: A Devil Heading off to Long Island?
To start getting a younger image, most of the veterans may have to go. Kyle Palmieri will be the Devils player that most teams will try to get at the deadline. When Palmieri joined the Devils after being traded by the Anaheim Ducks in 2015, he became one of the Devils recent memory’s top scorers. Last year was no different as Palmieri put up the most points during the Devils shortened season. However, this year his numbers have dropped as he scored only five goals and nine assists. There are two reasons for his decline this year. Like many other Devils this season, he was put on the COVID list during their outbreak.
Second, he doesn’t fit into the idea of what and how the Devils should look and play. When Palmieri has played this year, he has usually been a good presence in front of the net. However, anywhere else either misses or goes wide. So, who would be interested in a good skater but only has a 4.5% shooting percentage? The New York Islanders have been one of the top teams interested in getting him, and honestly, it makes sense and could work out for both teams. Barry Trotz has developed a system that works for his young and older players, and Palmieri could fit that system just fine.
Nikita Gusev: A Palmieri with Speed Headed to Beantown?
One player that Devils fans have quickly outcasted is left winger Nikita Gusev. When Gusev was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2019 offseason, fans were ecstatic. Gusev never got any real-time in Vegas, so he proved how good he could be when he got traded to New Jersey. He scored his first NHL goal on the Opening Night during the 2019 season against the Winnipeg Jets. When he finished up his first season, he had 13 goals and 31 assists, making a 44-point first season.
Unfortunately, the very next season, he was never the same. Like Kyle Palmieri, Gusev also suffered during the COVID outbreak, but sadly, it seems like he hasn’t recovered. While Gusev can skate fine, the problem is his finishing. While he has 81.8% of his shots on net, his shooting percentage is 3.6%. Gusev’s only two goals have come from games where the Devils had already lost. Gusev scored those goals in the final seconds to avoid a shutout or to make any loss by one goal. But that doesn’t mean Gusev can’t be good somewhere else. Like Palmieri, Gusev is reaching an age where the Devils aren’t looking to have for their rebuild. So, where would Gusev go?
Well, considering one contender needs a left-wing, the Boston Bruins could be that one team that could use his speed. The Bruins have many solid players, but they could use some other players than their top 6. Gusev could provide the speed, and once he learns how to finish the chances, he could give the Bruins with a dangerous player. It’s a high-risk, high reward situation for the Bruins, so they could take a chance on Nikita Gusev.
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