30 in 30: Maturation of Palmieri is Ducks' X-factor

Thursday, 08.1.2013 / 10:57 AM PT / News
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30 in 30: Maturation of Palmieri is Ducks\' X-factor
NHL.com

The opportunity for Anaheim Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri was as obvious as the writing on the lineup card for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. He was listed as the left wing on the top line, alongside the team's franchise players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Though he had 10:30 of ice time in that game, could it have been a bit of foreshadowing?

There's a big hole on the left side of the Ducks' top line following the trade of Bobby Ryan, who was shipped to the Ottawa Senators in July. Palmieri, selected No. 26 in the 2009 NHL Draft, could be the player coach Bruce Boudreau picks to fill that spot on a full-time basis.

Kyle Palmieri could be the player coach Bruce Boudreau picks to fill Bobby Ryan's spot on a full-time basis.

Palmieri, 22, received his largest taste of NHL action last season, playing 42 games, and he responded with 10 goals, including five game-winners. He's split the past three seasons between the Ducks and the American Hockey League, but he looks poised to make the jump to permanent NHL player.

"At the end [of the season], he played very well," Ducks general manager Bob Murray told NHL.com. "It was unfortunate for a lot of players who had put in a couple years in the minors and they had to spend the beginning part of the [2012-13 season] in the minors. People don't understand how hard that is. It's hard to get yourself motivated. Once he got to the [NHL], he was excited and ready to go. He played very well."

Boudreau rewarded Palmieri's solid play with short stints alongside the Ducks' top-line duo during particular games, but starting there in a Stanley Cup Playoff game made a major statement.

"We were always looking for someone to play with those two," Murray said. "Kyle handled it very well. He got a few opportunities to play there. Bruce is very good with the young players, and putting [Palmieri] in a position of playing his off-wing, we like him very much offensively on his off-wing, but we want to be fair to him defensively on the off-wing and we don't know if we've given him enough opportunity to grow used to playing left wing all the time in his own zone. Playoff games are critical; little mistakes inside your own blue line. Bruce moved him in and out of there and Kyle acquitted himself very well."

Short stints on the top line are one thing, but with Ryan's departure in the summer, there's a full-time job available. However, it won't just be handed to Palmieri. Veteran Dustin Penner was signed as a free agent, and Murray said reuniting the Ducks' second line from the 2007 Stanley Cup championship season went into the decision to bring back Penner. Rookie Emerson Etem is coming off a solid season; Jakob Silfverberg, who came from Ottawa as part of the Ryan trade, is coming off a strong first NHL season; and physical forward Matt Beleskey could be an option.

"Kyle will fight for that," Murray said. "I fully expect Emerson Etem to come into camp. He's going to get an opportunity there. And we just signed Dustin Penner, who had great success playing there before. Competition is healthy, and we have lots of it going on."

But Palmieri got a big chance there in the spring and could be the first to get a shot there in the fall.

"He's pushing a lot of positions and a lot of spots," Murray said. "Kyle, I can just sense he wanted it badly and I hope he shows up in the same frame of mind this year."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 CHI 75 45 24 6 213 175 96
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 75 24 44 13 68
C. Perry 63 32 20 15 52
R. Kesler 78 20 27 -2 47
S. Vatanen 63 12 25 6 37
J. Silfverberg 77 12 23 12 35
P. Maroon 69 9 25 -4 34
J. Wisniewski 66 8 26 -14 34
C. Fowler 76 7 27 5 34
H. Lindholm 74 7 26 23 33
M. Beleskey 63 22 10 15 32
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 33 11 5 .914 2.40
J. Gibson 13 7 0 .916 2.58

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