Today, the Tampa Bay Lightning has made the second best decision they have made the entire season. Earlier this afternoon, Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced via the Official Lightning website that the organization has officially re-signed rookie left wing Ondrej Palat to a 3-year contract extension worth a reported $10 million.
As you may already know, there are a number of young Lightning players, and even a few veterans, that are scheduled to become Free Agents in some capacity when the Free Agency period begins on July 1st.
I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t have my apprehensions about the Lightning’s lack of securing some of our more valuable players prior to the Free Agency period. I would have hoped that the team would have been a little more proactive here, but thankfully it seems that the wheels are beginning to turn and deals are beginning to get done.
Palat more than earned his contract extension this season. He suited up for 81 of the 82 games the Bolts played this season. In that time, he was able to score 23 goals and 36 assists for a total of 59 points to accompany his spectacular plus-32 rating.
Palat finished the regular season in 2nd place amongst all NHL rookies in points. The only person to surpass him was the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon.
His prowess on the ice also earned him a spot as one of the finalists for the Calder Trophy at the NHL Awards later this month in Las Vegas.
Anyone who watched the Lightning play this season knows that the chemistry between Johnson and Palat is simply unmatched. This is why it is so important that the Lightning secured both of them for multi-year deals. Yzerman has always talked about building for our future. If nothing else, I would say that this is a giant step in the right direction.
What do you think of Ondrej Palat’s new three-year deal? Are you excited for the opportunity to watch the Johnson-Palat connection continue into next season? Let us know what you think in the comments below.