The New York Islanders are getting a huge boost ahead of their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, activating Kyle Palmieri and Adam Pelech from injured reserve. Hudson Fasching has been moved to IR and Dennis Cholowski loaned to the AHL to make room.
Palmieri, 31, has played just a single game since November, spending the rest of the time on the shelf. The veteran forward has six goals and nine points in 21 appearances this season, averaging more than 16 minutes a night. Given his $5MM cap hit (Palmieri is in the second season of a four-year deal), his absence was a significant blow to the forward group that has struggled of late.
In their last nine games, the Islanders have scored more than two goals just a single time, and that still resulted in a loss. They have been held to just a single goal in four of those games, and overall have fallen to sixth in the Metropolitan Division, just four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Perhaps more important, however, is the return of Pelech, who hasn’t played since December 6. The 28-year-old defenseman tilts the ice so significantly in his 21 minutes a night that the team has outscored opponents 27-16 despite Pelech playing against top competition and receiving more defensive deployment.
Even though he isn’t considered an offensive defenseman, his ability to break up cycles, stop rushes at the line, and turn over the puck results in much better opportunities for his teammates.
With them back, it will be a lot closer to the lineup that the Islanders though they would have heading into the season (even if Cal Clutterbuck and Oliver Wahlstrom are on IR).