New Jersey Devils Sign Ondrej Palat to a 5-Year Contract

The New Jersey Devils have signed forward Ondrej Palat to a 5-year deal paying him $6 million per season.

For Palat, this is the first time he has tested free agency in his 10-year NHL career, as he has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization after they selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Draft. Given his incredible success on the ice, which includes a 2014 Calder Trophy nomination, two Stanley Cups, a Calder Cup Championship in the AHL and more than 600 NHL games played, you can confidently say that the 31-year-old is one of the most productive seventh-round picks of all time.

In the 2021-22 regular season, Palat scored 15 goals and 48 points in 77 games played, which weren’t terrible totals, but was off his scoring pace from 2020-21. However, he turned it on in the postseason, where he posted 11 goals and 21 points in 23 games played, which was good for second best with the Lightning.

Ondrej Palat Tampa Bay Lightning
The New Jersey Devils have added Ondrej Palat to their forward corps, giving the team new leadership and scoring potential. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

If there was no cap, there’s no doubt that the Lightning would be re-signing Palat without a second thought. However, as a team with little money available, they just couldn’t match the offers being made for him, which will be a major blow to their lineup.

What Palat Brings to the Devils

However, as a team looking to round the corner, New Jersey did an incredible job by bringing in Palat. While you can argue that they overpaid with this contract, they are getting a player who will bring with them a wealth of experience and talent that simply can’t be overvalued.

Immediately, he should slot into their top-six and produce 15 to 20 goals along with 40 to 50 points. More importantly than points, though, he will be a new, veteran voice in the locker room who has seen everything. The Devils are a relatively young team that is looking to finish a rebuild, and they need a player like Palat to help them translate their potential to the ice every night.

Related: 2022 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker

So, if Palat can help the Devils by not only being a top-six winger who can chip in on both the powerplay and the penalty kill, but also act as a mentor to Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, then he will quickly justify his $6 million price tag. Given everything thing he has done so far in his career, this will likely be money well spent by New Jersey.