1. Lightning

Lightning re-sign Palat to a three-year deal

Published Jun. 9, 2014

The Lightning locked up another one of its top young players Monday, re-signing star rookie Ondrej Palat to a three-year, $10 million deal.

Palat, 23, scheduled to be a restricted free agent July 1, is a Calder Trophy finalist for Rookie of the Year, along with teammate Tyler Johnson. Palat received a similar deal that his good friend and linemate Johnson got last month.

Palat said the two talked in recent weeks about the comparable contracts.

"We were almost living together, playing together, and now we have the same contract," Palat said from the Czech Republic. "It's awesome."I was happy about his deal and I'm sure he's happy about mine."

Palat racked up 23 goals and 59 points last season, ranking second among NHL rookies in points. He said his game took another step mid-season, when he got moved up to the first line with Johnson and Marty St. Louis after Steven Stamkos' injury.

"I started playing with Marty and he told me, don't be afraid to make the plays so I started to play like I did in the minors," Palat said. "I think confidence for me is the biggest thing."

Palat said he's feeling much better now having taken a few weeks off since the season ended. He suffered an upper body injury late in the season on a hit by Columbus' Jack Johnson. Palat left Game 1 against the Canadiens, but came back for Game 3. He said it wasn't a concussion, but he had headaches, with lights and loud noise giving him issues.

That's why Palat didn't risk anything by playing for the Czech Republic in the Worlds, but is 100-percent now.

"I'm ready to go," he said.