(This is the 13th in a series this month looking at each player on the Lightning’s roster. Up next: Erik Cernak)
TAMPA — There’s no question that Ondrej Palat plays a pivotal role with the Lightning.
The forward is fast, smart and good with the puck.
But injuries hampered him the past two seasons.
Palat this season had 34 points, his fewest since he became a Lightning regular in 2013-14, in 64 games.
He was out of the lineup for 16 games from Oct. 27-Nov. 29 after suffering a lower-body injury blocking a shot against the Golden Knights.
In February he missed two games with an upper-body injury.
On March 25 he suffered an upper-body injury in the first period against the Bruins when he took one of the most physical hits he had taken in awhile, but he didn’t miss any time.
In 2017-18 he missed two months after suffering a lower-body injury against the Wild and finished with 35 points (11 goals) in 56 games, his fewest games since becoming a regular.
Palat — a Calder Trophy finalist in his 2013-14 rookie season and once one of the vaunted “Triplets” line with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov — remains an important part of the Lightning’s core group when he’s healthy.
Palat, 28, is under contract for three more years at $5.3 million each. With the Lightning in a salary-cap crunch and Brayden Point due to be a restricted free agent and due a huge raise in his next deal, salary issues can’t be far from anyone’s mind.
High: Palat’s tipped-in goal from the slot off a backhanded pass from Mikhail Sergachev. The goal tied the score at Buffalo on Jan. 12, helping the Lightning start a three-game road trip with a 5-3 win.
Low: Injuries hampered him.
By the numbers:
8 Goals this season, a career low
34 Points, his fewest since he became a Lightning regular in 2013-14
64 Games played
14:53 Average ice time, his lowest since becoming a regular
Contact Mari Faiello at email@example.com. Follow @faiello_mari.