26-Year-Old Left Wing – Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract with the Lightning in July of 2017.
Palat (lower body) was sporting a regular jersey at Wednesday's practice session, Bryan Burns of the Lightning's official site reports.
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Ondrej Palat: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Like Triplet linemate Tyler Johnson, Palat struggled through injuries in 2015-16 to finish with just 40 points and a plus-10 rating in 62 games. It was a far cry from his two-way excellence of the previous two seasons – you know, the ones where he averaged better than 60 points and delivered a combined plus-63. But Palat remains a top scorer on one of the NHL's best lines and will return to his all-round excellence in 2016-17.
Palat is the third member of the Bolts’ fantastic Triplet Line -- depending on which side you count from. He, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov have uncanny chemistry, and they formed what was arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the entire NHL last season. His skills aren’t as dramatic as the other two, but Palat's no slouch, either, having built on his 2013-14 breakout with an encore of 16 goals, 47 assists and a plus-31 rating in 75 games. With fast feet and a quick stick, he has the rare ability to make those around him better. But Palat's so much more than just a ‘glue guy’ – he delivers when it matters most. His eight postseason goals in the Bolts’ recent run were more than Steven Stamkos himself. Palat will deliver close to 20 goals, 60-plus points and a great rating while playing on the second-unit power play, too. And he’ll do it year after year after … you get the point. Now go get him.
This seventh-round pick not only electrified the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but he was so hot he almost melted the ice. Palat started on the third line and eventually played his way onto a scoring line. He became the Bolts' top two-way forward and one of its best on-ice leaders, as a rookie, nonetheless. And he just kept getting better and better as the season progressed, picking up 22 of his 59 points in the 18 games after Martin St. Louis was traded. He also finished an incredible plus-32 in 81 games, good enough for a tie for seventh in the NHL in that category. He's penciled in as the Bolts' No. 1 left winger and will get to play beside Steven Stamkos this season.
Palat absolutely exploded in the Calder Cup Finals this past season, ultimately leading all scorers with 26 points. His skill set isn't elite and he needs to build some strength given his skinny (180), 6-0 frame. But he can play a two-way game and is smarter than the average bear, which he showed in a 14-game audition with the Bolts last year. He'll compete for a full-time gig with the mother club.