Tampa Bay Lightning sign F Ondrej Palat to 5-year contract extension

The Tampa Bay Lightning locks up 26-year-old forward Ondrej Palat for the next five years.

After signing Tyler Johnson to a 7-year extension, it was only a matter of time before the Tampa Bay Lightning concluded business with forward Ondrej Palat. And on Friday, they did just that.

The Lightning signed Palat to a five-year, $26.5 million extension, avoiding an arbitration hearing. The $5.3 million a year is an increase from the $3.3 million Palat was making previously. Palat scored 17 goals and 52 points this past season along with 141 and 60 takeaways.

Palat is the last major re-signing the Bolts will need to make until 2020 when Nikita Kucherov will become a restricted free agent.

Palat’s $5.3 million per year is higher than Johnson’s $5 million average he signed on July 10th. With Palat’s signing done, the Lightning now has $3.25 million remaining in cap space. While that may worry some, the Lightning has no more major signings to make.

Some believed Palat was the higher priority of the two forwards after looking at their statistics, and the Lightning treated him as such. The pay increase is a clear statement in the Lightning’s belief in Palat’s abilities.

Palat’s signing also has massive repercussions for the Lightning lineup. Keeping “The Triplets” (Johnson, Palat, and Kucherov) together, Palat solidifies the depth the Bolts have at wing.

Palat was drafted by the Lightning in the 7th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He was part of the 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals who captured the Calder Cup.

Palat was called up for the 2013-14 season, he scored 23 goals and 59 points, becoming a finalist for the Calder Trophy. He followed that up with a career high 63 points the following season.

With Johnson and Palat re-signed, the Lightning can now focus on challenging for their first Stanley Cup since 2004. And with their core locked up for the foreseeable future, the Bolts should be contending for several years after this.

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