Ondrej Palat Brings Experience to Young New Jersey Devils

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 26: Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Colorado Avalanche during first period in Game Six of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

After missing out on the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes, Tom Fitzgerald and the New Jersey Devils were forced to look at other forward options on day one free agency. Just before midnight, ESPN’s Kevin Weekes broke the news that Ondrej Palat was heading to New Jersey.

Palat came into free agency looking for some term as well as the pay raise that Tampa Bay Lightning could not provide due to their cap crunch. The five-year, $30 million contract locks up Palat through the 2026-27 season at an average annual value of $6 million.

Palat brings a winning mentality and a bevy of experience to a young locker room looking to take that next step. The 31-year-old had 423 points (143 goals, 280 assists) in 628 games over 10 seasons with Tampa Bay.

Courtesy of JFresh Hockey

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While his regular season numbers are impressive, Palat is best known for what he does during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Czech winger has won two Stanley Cups in four Stanley Cup Finals appearances and has recorded 94 points (48 goals, 46 assists) in 138 career playoff games.

Palat will slide nicely into the Devils top six. While the club could still make more additions this offseason, a top six of Palat, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer is a dangerous one that is more than capable of putting up points.

Palat’s rise from a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 to a key part of a championship team has been amazing. Look for young players to lean on Palat’s leadership and experience as the group looks to collectively take the next step.

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