The New York Islanders could soon be getting sharpshooter Kyle Palmieri back in the lineup, as after a nine-game absence, he rejoined the group for Monday’s practice.
Palmieri taking part in drills. Doesn’t seem restricted in any way. pic.twitter.com/epZphbvDEv
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) December 12, 2022
Kyle Palmieri was not a full participant in his return to team practice, as he did not take line rushes or do any battle drills, as the Islanders seem to be easing him back slowly from his upper-body injury (likely a concussion).
After the skate, Lambert said the following regarding Palmieri’s status as well as Anthony Beauvillier’s (he missed Saturday’s game):
“We’ll just have to wait and see how they make out, but they looked okay in practice.”
The 31-year-old Kyle Palmieri has played in 20 games this season, with six goals and three assists. He’s not only a player that can score, which the Islanders need right now, but he also plays a responsible two-way game. With Adam Pelech out and no detailed explanations on the extent of his injury, Palmieri’s defensive game becomes even more important.
Before Palmieri went out with injury, the Islanders averaged 3.35 goals per game, allowing just 2.15, and had a point percentage of .600.
Over the last nine games without Palmieri, the Islanders have averaged just 2.88 goals per game, allowing 2.78 (Pelech missed the previous two games) with a point percentage of .556.
“It’ll be really important [to get Palmieri back],” Zach Parise told NYI Hockey Now. “No question, he helps out the power play. He’s played a pretty significant role on any line that he’s been on. Between him, Beauvillier, and Pelech, these guys are welcomed back as soon as they can [get back].”
Islanders’ Options to Create a Spot
Since Kyle Palmieri is on IR, he has not been using up a roster spot in his absence. When he’s ready to get into a game, the New York Islanders will need to return a player to Bridgeport (AHL).
Out of the likely waiver candidates, in Simon Holmstrom, Hudson Fasching, and Ross Johnston, Holmstrom is the only waiver-exempt player.
Fasching has shown well in his four games with the Islanders this season and is someone that has provided a boost most times he’s hit the ice.
“I think he’s done a really good job of that first game. I mean, he set a few guys up in the slot and made some great plays,” Parise said. “He’s got his head up, and I think he’s done really well.”
“He plays simple but smart. And again, he plays with his head up, so I think he’s fit in really well.”
While the 21-year-old forward Simon Holmstrom has played well, with a few struggles here and there in his first taste of NHL action, he is the likely player heading to Bridgeport to continue developing.
He did not show his offensive game much, with no goals and a limited number of shots, so that’s something he will need to work on with Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson, as the Islanders need more offensive game-breakers.
Lambert’s Likely Lineup
In Kyle Palmieri’s place, most nights, was Simon Holmstrom. He has done a solid job defensively on his line, whether he has played alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Palmieri (minutes) or Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom.
With Anthony Beauvillier out Saturday night, Holmstrom skated on the Brock Nelson line with Anders Lee, with Hudson Fasching skating on the Pageau line.
As for where Lambert will place Palmieri in the lineup, we have a few hints.
First, Zach Parise told NYI Hockey Now how easy it is to play with Palmieri, explaining how his game complements him and Pageau.
“He’s really easy to read off. I mean, he puts himself in a good shooting position in the offensive zone, kind of the quiet areas for one-timers, or in the slot. So I think it makes him a good fit because, you know, J.G. and I, we get in there and forecheck and get the puck, and he’s always going to go to a shooting spot.”
“He works hard. He plays hard. And so he’s just an easy guy to play with.”
Secondly, Matt Martin had this to say about Palmieri’s return:
“That Pageau line has been starting a lot of games and playing against top lines, and he’s a big part of that, so definitely good to have him back on the ice,” Matt Martin told NYI Hockey Now.
Lane Lambert is the one making the decisions, and he may have tipped his lineup hand, as he removed Josh Bailey from the Mat Barzal line and moved Lee in that spot for practice Monday.
“They’ve played so much hockey together over the years I’ve been here, and we just made that little switch today, and we will see where we go from there,” Lambert said.
That move allows Palmieri to rejoin the line he’s played the most with this season, the Pageau line.
Here’s what NYI Hockey Now is thinking, assuming Beauvillier is good to go moving forward here:
Anders Lee-Mathew Barzal-Oliver Wahlstrom
Josh Bailey-Brock Nelson-Anthony Beauvillier
Zach Parise-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Kyle Palmieri
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Again, Palmieri could be ready to go on Tuesday or maybe not on the road. Until we can speak to Palmieri (not allowed while on IR) or Lambert provides more of a timetable, there’s no way to determine a timeline.
But whenever Kyle Palmieri does return, the New York Islanders need him to provide support on both sides of the puck as they try to hold down a playoff spot.