The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Ondrej Palat to a five-year contract packing an average annual value of $5.3 million. The deal came down on Thursday and runs through the 2021-2022 NHL season.
“I’m very satisfied,” Palat said. “The negotiations have been going on for a pretty long period of time, but all the time there was mutual respect and a desire to make a deal from both sides. Everyone has to make a compromise, but in the end everybody is satisfied.”
The 26-year-old was set for salary arbitration in Toronto on July 25, but there wasn’t really much doubt he was going to sign with Tampa before then.
The writing was pretty much on the wall when Tyler Johnson inked his seven-year contract on Monday.
Palat had 52 points in 75 games in 2016-2017, including 17 goals and 35 assists. He’s a critical part of Tampa’s offensive game and getting him in the fold with Johnson was always a priority for general manager Steve Yzerman.
The Lightning made a few moves in the off-season to solidify the foundations for the Palat and Johnson contracts, shifting Jonathan Drouin to Montreal in a trade.
As of now, the club is in pretty good shape with everyone signed for 2017-2018.
Nikita Kucherov will be in the running for a shiny new contract extension in July of next year, but Yzerman should have the available room by then. His Lightning are about $3.2 million under the cap ceiling right now.
Signing Palat and Johnson should line everything up for a return to the post-season, which is now the team’s most urgent need. They flopped in 2016-2017, finishing with a 42-30-10 record, and that won’t do for a squad that’s honestly become used to winning.
Palat, for one, is ready to get back to it.
“I’ve been training in Ostrava (Czech Republic) for about a month and a half,” he said. “I want to be 100 percent ready. [Last] season didn’t meet neither our own nor our fans’ expectations and we have to do a lot to make it up. And I believe we [will] succeed.”