Tampa Bay Lightning should sign Ondrej Palat first

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18: Ondrej Palat
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18: Ondrej Palat /

Tampa Bay Lightning should sign Ondrej Palat over Tyler Johnson if time, or cap space, catches up with the team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning face an interesting situation as the 2017-2018 NHL season nears. Both Center Tyler Johnson and Left Wing Ondrej Palat are restricted free agents and both players filed for arbitration. Now, The Lightning has $13.68 million in available cap space, enough to sign both players. But if the case comes where it isn’t, the Lightning should sign Palat if given the choice between the two.

This may be a matter of opinion, but the statistics beg to differ.

Ondrej Palat has played 307 games in a Lightning uniform, scoring 74 goals and notching 144 assists. Tyler Johnson has scored 82 goals and 122 assists while playing in 308 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Those numbers show a simple story: Palat is more of a playmaker while Johnson is a goal scorer. Palat has 218 career points over Johnson’s 204. But those totals are too close to call, how about some non-scoring stats.

Last season Palat registered 141 hits and 66 blocked shots. He took the puck away 60 times and gave the puck away 46 times. He did this averaging 19:07 minutes of ice time per game.

Johnson, on the other hand, registered just 46 hits and blocked only 30 shots. He took the puck away 26 times and gave it away 32 times with an average ice time of 18:49 minutes.

Now we see some clear differences: Palat uses his body more often than Johnson, resulting in more hits and gaining more possession of the puck.

Speaking of possession, advanced statistics show Palat has an edge over Johnson in that department as well.

Using Corsi (A statistic that measures shots, blocks and misses both for and against while the player is on the ice) Palat had 53.1% last season. Meaning 53.1% of the time the Lightning were controlling the puck while Palat was on the ice.

Johnson meanwhile had a Corsi of 50.2%, meaning the Lightning had possession of the puck 1.9% of the time more with Palat than with Johnson.

Even in the +/- category Palat has a career +86 compared to Johnson’s +58. Meaning most categories point statistically in favor of Ondrej Palat.

Even if analytics or normal statistics aren’t your things, you can’t deny the edge Palat has over Johnson when it comes to contract negotiations this summer.

Next: Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat Arbitration Projections

Even if both men are in Lightning uniforms come October 6th, we should definitely see #18 out there before #9.