Lightning extend Calder Trophy nominee Palat

  • Arun Morace

Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Ondrej Palat is the epitome of value. He was a seventh-round draft choice in 2011, and stepped up in 2013-14 as a rookie to give the Lightning 81 games, 23 goals and 59 total points, earning himself a nomination for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top newcomer. Those 59 points were second among all rookies this past season, behind only 2013 No. 1 overall pick Nate MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, who had 63. Not bad for the No. 208 selection in the draft.

And now, the 23-year-old Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic native will stay with the Lightning for the next three years, at the relatively low price of $3.3 million per year. He was Tampa Bay’s leading scorer at the end of the season (not counting the 61 points from Martin St. Louis, who was traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline), and led the team with a +32 rating. According to the Lightning’s official site, Palat was only the third player in franchise history to finish a season with a plus/minus rating of +30 or better.

Palat also tied with Steven Stamkos for the team lead in postseason goals with 2, as the Lightning were swept out of the first round by the Montreal Canadiens, and was selected by his home country to represent them at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Offensive force, Rookie of the Year nominee, Olympic representative. Not a bad resume for a 23-year-old former seventh-round pick, who’s now coming with a $3,333,333/year price tag. Again- value.

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Arun Morace

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