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Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac trade grades: Devils ship duo to Islanders in mega deal

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Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac trade grades: Devils ship duo to Islanders in mega deal

It is officially official: trade season is here.

With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, a big East Division swap went down Wednesday night when Tri-State clubs, the Devils and the Islanders, traded players and picks. The New York squad snagged forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac while New Jersey got two minor leaguers and some draft picks — one being a first-rounder.

It’s a good deal for both clubs as the Devils stock the cupboards and the Isles get two guys that could help the Stanley Cup contenders up front. 

Here’s how the teams did:

Islanders received from New Jersey:

Kyle Palmieri (F) and Travis Zajac (F)

Devils received from New York:

A.J. Greer (F), Mason Jobst (F), 2021 first-round pick, 2022 conditional fourth-round pick

New Jersey will retain 50 percent of both Zajac and Palmieri’s salaries.

Devils grade: B+

Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald knows how to make moves. Last year at the deadline (when he was the interim) he made three deals, and that was after he sent Blake Coleman to the Lightning and Andy Greene to these same Isles. This year he traded two guys who will be unrestricted free agents this summer, who they could have lost for nothing, for something. 

NHL TRADE TRACKER 2021: List of deals completed before the deadline

With a young core including Jack Hughes, Ty Smith and netminder Mackenzie Blackwood, Fitzgerald went out and added at least one more potential young star with that first-round pick. New Jersey now nine picks in the 2021 draft, including two in the opening round. Greer is a 2015 second-round pick and Jobst went undrafted; both had been playing in the AHL with Bridgeport.

“It sets us up really well for the future,” said Fitzgerald on Zoom after the deal. “We feel we got three really good prospects that can come in and develop under our development program and grow these players to be the players we project them to be.”

While the 2021 draft isn’t considered as deep as 2020, the Devils could get a quality guy in the latter portion of the first round, which is where Fitzgerald is expecting the pick to fall.

“I hope it’s the 32nd pick, I really do. I hope these two gentlemen can win a Cup and we get the 32nd pick. I would love nothing more than that,” he said.

Islanders grade: A-

The Islanders lost captain Anders Lee, who was tied with Brock Nelson for the team’s goal lead (12), to a season-ending knee injury in March. According to NHL.com’s Brian Compton, GM Lou Lamoriello noted that the way the team responded after Lee went down (8-4-0), he needed to make a move to help bolster the lineup.

“I know what they bring on the ice,” Lamoriello said regarding his newest acquisitions. “I also know what kind of people they are and what they bring to the locker room. Chemistry is extremely important to me.”

Lamoriello especially knows Zajac who he drafted with the 20th overall pick in 2004 for the Devils. The two-way center has spent his entire career in the Garden State and amassed 550 points in 1,024 games. He also has 28 points in 57 playoff games, including 14 points during the Devils 2012 Stanley Cup runner-up run.

He’ll probably be a bottom-six guy for Barry Trotz’s club but what he brings as a grizzled veteran — and that long playoff run — is intangible to the squad. It should be noted that Zajac waived his no-trade clause to go to the Island and considering it’s a short drive (traffic permitting) from NJ to Uniondale, it was probably a big reason why. 

“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” said Zajac. “At [this] point in my career and where I’m at, I want a chance to win. I just believe this is a team that has all the aspects of a winning hockey team and to be able to try and be a part of that and help them in any way possible … I think it was just, for me, it was the right time.”

As for Palmieri, he was the blue-chip in this deal. Before the move, he was considered one of the top players expected to be moved. (TSN’s Trade Bait board had him at No. 2.) The 30-year-old winger has only potted 17 points this season (in 34 games) but he’s consistently notched 20-plus goals in each of the previous five seasons. In 595 career games between the Ducks and Devils, he has 183 goals and 172 assists. A change of scenery, and playing with the likes of Mat Barzal could spark his offense.

“The opportunity to go and be a part of a team that has a chance to do something special is something every player wants,” Palmieri told reporters. “That’s all you can ask for. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Aside from joining a team that could go on a long postseason run, the two newest Islanders will also be welcomed — from a social distance — old friends and teammates Greene and Cory Schneider (taxi squad).

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Is Julian Edelman a Hall of Famer? Twitter debates retired receiver’s credentials

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Is Julian Edelman a Hall of Famer? Twitter debates retired receiver's credentials

Julian Edelman called it quits Monday, announcing his retirement after an 11-year NFL career, all of it spent with the Patriots.

Edelman’s final stat line: 620 receptions for 6,866 receiving yards (11 yards per reception) and 36 receiving touchdowns; 58 rushes for 413 yards (7.1 yards per carry); 177 punt returns for 1,986 yards and four touchdowns. His yardage ranks 156h in NFL history, and his receiving touchdowns are tied for 261st.

Zero Pro Bowl selections. Three Super Bowl rings. One Super Bowl MVP. And a member of the Patriots’ 2010 All-Decade team.

Now, the ensuing debate: Are those numbers good enough to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (which Edelman won’t be eligible for until 2026)? The pure numbers say no, but that didn’t stop Twitter users from making “HOFer” and “Edelman” trend Monday evening as they discussed Edelman’s Hall of Fame credentials.

MORE: Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer in May 2019 made a compelling argument that Edelman’s Hall of Fame case isn’t so cut and dry. Working in Edelman’s favor is the fact that only Jerry Rice ranks ahead of Edelman in postseason receptions (151 to Edelman’s 118) and receiving yards (2,245 to Edelman’s 1,442). He was also one of the favorite targets of Tom Brady — himself a first-ballot Hall of Famer — as the two won three Super Bowls together.

But Edelman only led the Patriots three times in receiving yards, and never put together more than 1,117 yards in a season (in 2019, his last fully healthy season). He had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons and never scored more than seven receiving touchdowns a year. People were also quick to point out his stats pale in comparison to other non-Hall of Famers with considerably better stats, including Hines Ward, who in 2021 failed to make it into Canton for the fifth consecutive year.

Regardless of whether Edelman makes it into the Hall of Fame, the fact that his candidacy is so hotly debated — not even 24 hours removed from announcing his retirement — is a testament to his impact on the game.

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Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

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Why did Patriots cut Julian Edelman? Failed physical only part of New England roster move

The Patriots sent shockwaves throughout the NFL on Monday — tremors, at least — with the announcement that they would cut veteran receiver Julian Edelman.

Multiple reports suggest that New England cut Edelman, 34, because he failed his physical; he would have played his 12th season in the league in 2021 after missing the final 10 games of the 2020 season while recovering from knee surgery.

That said, New England’s decision to cut Edelman was more than just a simple failed physical. Either way, Monday’s decision could put the cap on an 11-year career that saw Edelman catch 620 passes for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns and win three Super Bowls.

NFL MOCK DRAFTS 2021: Compare Mel Kiper, Daniel Jeremiah, Todd McShay & other experts

Here’s everything you need to know about the decision, and Edelman’s future in the NFL.

Why did the Patriots cut Julian Edelman?

The initial reason for Edelman’s tenure ending in New England was a failed physical. That makes sense on the surface, considering that the 34-year-old receiver played in the fewest games in a given season since he entered the NFL in 2009. Considering how busy New England coach/GM Bill Belichick was in free agency, it also stands to reason that Edelman would have seen fewer targets in 2021 after the Patriots added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

However, that was only part of the Patriots’ decision. Per Mike Weiss of ESPN, the decision could simply be a formality and precursor to Edelman retiring from football.

Edelman later confirmed rumors that he was, indeed, retiring. Edelman, in a pre-recorded video, announced his decision.

Why is Edelman retiring from the NFL?

In the video, Edelman credited an undisclosed knee injury from the 2020 season as the reason for his retirement. He underwent surgery on Oct. 29 and did not return for the remainder of New England’s 7-9 season.

“Nothing in my career has ever come easy. And, no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy, either,” Edelman said in his announcement. “I always said, ‘I’m gonna go until the wheels come off.’ And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I’m honored, and so proud, to be retiring a Patriot.

That last line also puts an end to any rumors that Edelman will attempt a comeback somewhere else in the NFL — notably, in Tampa Bay with former teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

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Dustin Poirier says Conor McGregor never donated promised $500K to former’s charity

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Dustin Poirier says Conor McGregor never donated promised $500K to former's charity

Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are confirmed to be fighting again … on Twitter.

The latest clash between the two UFC fighters stems from a Poirier claim Sunday night that McGregor and his team failed to deliver on a promised $500,000 donation. It would have gone to Poirier’s charity, “The Good Fight,” after their UFC 257 bout in January, which Poirier won via second-round TKO.

McGregor responded in kind, saying that Poirier never said exactly where the money was going and how it would be used.

MORE: Francis Ngannou wins heavyweight title at UFC 260 after KO of Stipe Miocic

All this stemmed from a 2020 exchange between the two fighters where McGregor teased a comeback outside of UFC. He proposed a PPV with Poirier, saying all the money would go to charity. He eventually settled on the $500,000 amount, which would be donated after their January bout. Poirier confirmed in December 2020 that McGregor’s team had begun the process of donating to his foundation.

Poirier and McGregor’s online squabble further devolved from there, with Poirier claiming that McGregor’s team quit responding to emails and McGregor calling Poirier a “brain dead hillbilly” — before canceling their trilogy fight.

Both fighters have reportedly signed contracts to a trilogy fight on July 10 at UFC 264, though that promotion hasn’t been made official. What’s also uncertain is whether McGregor’s claim that the fight is off is him simply letting off steam or retaliation against Poirier.

Just another day in the UFC.

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