Lightning re-signs Ondrej Palat to five-year, $26.5M deal

Restricted free agent wing is final key roster piece to lock in, re-signing in a week that began with the re-signing of Tyler Johnson. "We're happy to have two important players for our organization signed to long-term contracts," general manager Steve Yzerman said. 

Published July 14 2017
Updated July 15 2017

TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman ended what was a good week Friday when he re-signed restricted free agent forward Ondrej Palat to a five-year contract worth an average of $5.3 million per year.

"We're happy to have two important players for our organization signed to long-term contracts," Yzerman said.

The week began Monday with the re-signing of restricted free agent Tyler Johnson to a seven-year, $35 million deal. He and Palat had filed for salary arbitration. Each signed before having a hearing.

When asked if the Palat deal concludes his offseason business as far as the roster is concerned, Yzerman said, "Off the top of my head, I think so."

Johnson received a longer contract but for less money per year ($5 million average) than Palat, who took a shorter deal but for more average money per season. Yzerman said there is nothing to read into that.

"We talk to the players about what's important them," Yzerman said. "Some prefer longer term, and some perform shorter term. Tyler was looking to do a seven-year deal, a longer term, and Ondrej was comfortable at five. Every term comes with different (salary) cap numbers. It was finding something that makes sense for both players."

The Lightning has $3,250,833 of cap space available after the Palat deal, cap website capfriendly.com says.

Palat, 26, was third on the Lightning last season with 35 assists in a 52-point season. He averaged 19 minutes, 7 seconds of ice time, second among Lightning forwards.

Yzerman said he believes it was important to sign Palat to a long-term deal because of what he brings to the team each game.

"He plays in all situations for us," Yzerman said. "He plays hard. He's a very quiet guy, but he's a very good all-around player. Maybe he flies under the radar a little bit. I'm not sure people recognize how good of a player he is and how complete of a player he is in all facets of the game.

"His play-making ability, his goal-scoring ability, his physical play, his work without the puck, his work defensively on the penalty kill, his physical play — he's just a very good all-around player that we rely on on a nightly basis."

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