Sunday, June 28, 2009

Penalty Kill: Kyle Palmieri

Anaheim calling to the hockey world...

"The Anaheim Ducks are proud to select, from the US National Development Team, forward Kyle Palmieri"

I suppose it would have been awkward for Martin Madden to say, "formerly of the US National Development Team," though I'm sure at least a few people were thinking it. Palmieri's off-ice trouble has become quite the melodrama. Officially, he was dismissed for violating team rules. Unofficially, a variety of tales have emerged, though none overwhelmingly trustworthy. Some paint Palmieri as a participant in the rule-breaking, some as an implicated party who refused to name the actual violators. The only certainty is that Palmieri missed an opportunity with the National Development Team, and must make the most of his time at Notre Dame, where he is committed in the Fall or Guelph of the OHL, who drafted him last year.

The Ducks are clearly unfazed by Palmieri's past. It seems the 5'10" 190 lb. center was their man late in the 1st round. When Anaheim was set to pick at 21, the best players that had slipped to 15 (Moore and Schroeder) were still available, but the Ducks again opted to pass on the pair, trading down to select Palmieri (at 26th) and Matt Clark (at 37th). Palmieri is only two inches taller than Schroeder (whose height sent him into draft board free fall) and Matt Clark, while highly regarded, lacks much (if not all) of John Moore's upside. The Ducks passed on a "bird in the hand" at 21 to go for "two in the bush." The odds are against a late 1st Rounder and a 2nd Rounder equaling the potential of a player projected 11-14th overall, but only time will tell.

Anaheim gets an interesting gamble in Palmieri. The young forward was arguably the most physically developed participant in the Fitness Testing at this year's Combine, and the scouts remain high on his quick skating, his banging play and his great hands in tight. Palmieri's toolbox, playing style and stature have garnered comparisons to Zach Parise, and that is certainly the potential plateau for his development. To get there, he needs to develop his hockey sense, and learn to use his quick moves and size to his advantage, rather than getting knocked down from play to play by the larger competition.

If his offense can't mature with the NCAA and then AHL competition, Palmieri could quickly become a third or fourth line grinder with the ability to make the ordinary plays extraordinarily well. That's still valuable, though perhaps a bit expensive at the end of the 1st Round.

-Depending on which rumor you choose, Palmieri may have sacrificed his spot on the Development Team to protect his teammates. That would make him a strong character player. The alternative rumor, perhaps, just makes him appropriately mature for his age.

-Hard-working competitor. He may not have the skill set that Holland has, but he displays determination on the ice, which may make him the safer bet of the Ducks two 1st Round picks.

-Strength and quickness. Parise has shown how dangerous this particular combination can be. Despite his size, Palmieri has one of the more desirable upsides of any player in the Ducks' prospect pool.

-Again, depending on which rumor you choose to believe, Palmieri may be prone to immature behavior.

-If he ends up a third line grinder, Palmieri and Clark may be a poorly conceived alternative to Moore or Schroeder.

-Size. Despite his strength, Palmieri's size can become an issue, especially joining a prospect pool where he can look very few players in the eye. He may have an uphill climb getting out of the minors.

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