Boston Bruins

Mar 7, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri (21) celebrates a goal on Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the third period of New Jersey’s 1-0 win at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders have beaten the Bruins in every 2021 head-to-head to date, and now they’ve beaten them to the punch on the trade market, with the Islanders pulling off a blockbuster trade for the Devils’ Kyle Palmieri (and Travis Zajac) on Wednesday.

In exchange for Palmieri and Zajac, the Devils received a 2021 first-round pick, as well as minor-league forwards A.J Greer (one goal and six points in 37 career NHL games since 2016) and Mason Jobst (15 points in 50 career AHL games), and a conditional 2022 fourth-round pick that becomes a third-round selection should the Islanders advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The Devils also retained 50 percent of the salary of both Palmieri and Zajac, both of whom are pending free agents, in the deal.

The Bruins’ interest in Palmieri is well-documented by now. The Bruins were interested in Palmieri during the 2020 trade deadline, and they were among the teams that showed interest in Palmieri prior to this trade to Long Island. In fact, they were circling the Devils this time around in search of a potential combo package for both Palmieri and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, according to recent reports.

Skating in the final year of his current deal, Palmieri arrives to the Islanders with eight goals and 17 points in 34 games. (Of course, five of those eight goals and six of those 17 points have come against the Bruins this season.) Zajac, meanwhile, will give the Isles another stabilizing center, with 17 of his 18 points in 2021 coming at even strength.

It’s the kind of move from the Isles, who were always in the market for an upgrade (especially after losing Anders Lee to a torn ACL), that feels a bit like the Bolts’ opening swing for Blake Coleman last deadline.

Where the Bruins go from here with Palmieri off the board will certainly be interesting.

Buffalo’s Taylor Hall is still on the board, though the Sabres are asking for a lot for a player playing the worst hockey of his career. The Coyotes’ Conor Garland also remains on the market as a potential trade chip, and players like Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, the Kings’ Dustin Brown, and Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell are among those expected to be in play this deadline.

The NHL trade deadline is Monday, Apr. 12 at 3 p.m.