Tampa – – In the wake of a 6-2 win by the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final, something hit me like a lightning bolt. Ondrej Palat will be a free agent for the first time in his career this summer, and all signs are pointing to him testing the market based on Tampa’s continuing cap struggles.
Tampa will try to retain him, but it doesn’t mean that Palat won’t test the market. He had a very important goal in Game 3. It was a bad body blow to the Avs. Tampa tied up the game 1-1 in the first period. But this goal helped send his team to the locker room with a lead.
Palat was drafted 208th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Most players drafted in that spot don’t even sniff the NHL. Palat is a clutch performer who now has 47 playoff goals in his career. That’s second all-time in Lightning history. Steve Stamkos has 42.
Palat is 31 and could get a 4-5 year deal outside of Tampa. Considering his playoff proficiency, he could be a six million dollar player. The best fit for him outside of Tampa is a team that is looking for that extra playoff scorer. Who can’t use that?
I had a front office executive rave about him. Why? Because they know how valuable he is to a team when the lights get bright. His career shooting percentage in the playoffs is over 16%, and he’s had seasons of 24 and 25% as well. He’s running at a clip of .68 points per game for his playoff career so far.
If I am the Carolina Hurricanes. I would try and lure him there. They need a scorer like this. They might need to exceed that price tag for obvious reasons. I could see the Islanders being interested as well. Let’s see what happens.