When reigning MVP Taylor Hall was named an All-Star earlier this month despite being sidelined with a lower-body injury, it always looked like a long-shot that he would even be back in the New Jersey Devils’ lineup by All-Star weekend, nevertheless willing to participate in the exhibition event. That prediction has come to fruition, as Hall has officially backed out of All-Star participation. Fortunately, the Devils will be well-represented anyway. Kyle Palmieri, enjoying a career season, has been named Hall’s replacement on the Metropolitan Division squad, New Jersey announced.
Palmieri, 27, is making his first All-Star appearance in his ninth NHL season. It also happens to be the best season of his career to date. Palmieri has already registered 22 goals and 38 points in 47 games, putting him on pace for 38 goals and 66 points, both of which would shatter his previous career highs. Palmieri leads the Devils in goals, points, power play production, and shots in what has been an offensively dominant campaign. More than any season before, Palmieri deserves the All-Star nod and will be a fitting addition to the festivities.
Palmieri’s success – and now league-wide recognition – is also why he is considered an untouchable asset for the struggling Devils. New Jersey has fallen short of expectations this season just one year after a surprise run to the postseason, but Palmieri has been one of the lone highlights. Although his trade value has never been higher, the Devils are reportedly not willing to consider offers in the days leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline that revolve around Palmieri, who has two years remaining on his contract at a bargain $4.65MM if he keeps up this level of production. Many other pieces could be moved by New Jersey in the coming weeks, but their 2019 All-Star is here to stay.