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|Ducks' prospect knows what it means to "produce"|
|Written by Dan Marrazza|
|Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:37|
With prospects like Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem, the Anaheim Ducks have a bright future ahead of them. None of their prospects' futures may be brighter, however, than that of former Notre Dame Fighting Irish winger, Kyle Palmieri, who has used his blue collar roots to become one of the shining stars of the Ducks' organization.When the Anaheim Ducks selected Kyle Palmieri with the 26th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, they did so with the expectation that he would “produce.”
And through his first two professional seasons, both spent predominantly with the Syracuse Crunch when they were the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, Palmieri has lived up to every bit of his tremendous hype.
No player in the American Hockey League has combined for more goals (62) than Palmieri over the past two seasons, when he’s been the only player to be named an AHL All-Star in what were his first two professional seasons.
“He’s a gifted player,” said Palmieri’s current head coach with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, Trent Yawney. “He has an NHL release on his shot. Sometimes, we forget that he’s still only 21-years-old. But he’s already had a huge impact in the American Hockey League at a very young age.”
While being a former first-round draft pick would suggest that this level of production should be expected of Palmieri, another aspect of the Smithtown, Long Island native who grew up in Montvale, New Jersey’s upbringing reveals how familiar he should already be with the concept of having to produce.
After all, Palmieri’s childhood in northern New Jersey was spent being raised on a produce farm.
“My family has some land,” said Palmieri. “It’s my house, my grandparents’ house and one or two other houses on the land. We mostly have fruits and vegetables. We also have the broccoli, the peppers and all that stuff that my family grows, too. I never had the chance to work on the farm since I was always so busy with hockey. But my two older sisters and my brother all got their starts working on the farm. It’s a family type of thing.”
Besides rescuing him from laboring on his family’s produce farm, Palmieri had another childhood experience that helped teach him that extra benefits could come his way if he could produce on the ice.
Because as a 15-year-old in 2007, Kyle was such a dominant high school player at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City that he was rewarded in a way that he’ll never forget, when his attention-grabbing performances earned him the chance to be a guest of the New Jersey Devils at the old Meadowlands Arena and meet one of hockey’s biggest stars.
“I think the Devils rewarded one player from every conference in the state each month,” said Palmieri. “They invite you up to the arena where there’s a big luncheon and they present you with a plaque. Then they have you meet with one of the players from the Devils. My month, I got to meet with Zach Parise.”
Meeting Zach Parise (pictured) would prove to only be the beginning of the accolades that Palmieri’s ability to produce earned him, when six months later he left home for Ann Arbor, Michigan to play in the prestigious U.S. National Team Development Program, where he played alongside two of his future professional teammates in the Ducks organization, Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem.
“The national team has an incredible program,” said Palmieri. “You always have your ups and downs when you move away from home at such a young age. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without my experiences with the national team. It was two of the best years of my life.”
In keeping with a major theme in his life, Palmieri was able to produce enough with the USNTDP—31 goals in 60 games over two years—to be given a full scholarship to play at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
“It was important to my family and me for me to get a good education,” said Palmieri. “I was always a pretty good student, so Notre Dame was a good fit for me. At the time, Notre Dame was one of the best hockey programs in the country and it’s a hard place to turn down an offer from.”
Although Palmieri only spent one season with the Fighting Irish, he, of course, used the stage of college hockey as another platform for him to produce, as he tied 2010 Detroit Red Wings first-round draft pick Riley Sheahan for Notre Dame’s freshman scoring lead with 17 points (9g, 8a) in 33 games during the 2009-10 season.
Using Notre Dame as a direct springboard into professional hockey, Palmieri, with two AHL All-Star seasons and 28 NHL games now under his belt, is now in a spot where his AHL coach believes that if he can just produce a little more with the Norfolk Admirals during the NHL lockout, that he should be primed to stick with the Ducks on a full-time basis in the NHL in the relatively near future.
“The experience that Kyle will get on the ice against the stiff competition in the AHL this year has the chance to make him as a player,” said Trent Yawney. “The AHL is always a good league, but it’s even going to be up a notch from what it normally is. We know Kyle can score goals and he’s even improved his defensive game a lot over the past two years, so I think a little more experience here (in the AHL) will help him be a quality all-around player in the NHL very soon.”
“Making that jump to Anaheim whenever the work stoppage ends is on my list of things to do in the next year,” added Palmieri. “If I can just come to the rink every day, practice hard and play well, I think I’ll be in a good spot to get that chance soon.”
Palmieri and most of Anaheim’s top prospects kick off the AHL season on Friday night against the Worcester Sharks, when they’ll become the first group of Ducks prospects to play under the team’s new affiliation with the Norfolk Admirals.
Kyle’s progress in the AHL with the Admirals can be followed on Twitter all season long at @NorfolkAdmirals.
You can follow us on Twitter @HockeyPrimetime and Dan @DanMarrazza.
Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 01:39|