Ondrej Palat had another big game in the Conference Finals against the New York Rangers, deflecting the late go-ahead goal to give the Tampa Bay Lightning the win, and a 3-2 series lead.
Palat continues to prove that he is a big part of this Lightning team, with eight goals and 14 points in 16 games this postseason, something that will surely drive up his price tag as a pending unrestricted free agent.
Frank Seravalli and Matt Larkin discussed Palat’s playoff run, and whether or not the Lightning should try to bring him back, even if it means at a high cap hit.
Matt Larkin: “If you look at those 11 game winners, only Joe Pavelski and Evgeni Malkin have more game-winning goals in the playoffs among active NHLers. He’s been tremendous. And what’s interesting to me about Palat is the consistency. In the regular season for his career, he has 55 points per 82 games. In the playoffs, 54.5 points per 82 games. You get the same player all season long, very consistent, very reliable at both ends of the ice. He can play on a scoring line, but he’s defensively responsible.
The question for the Lightning is, are you going to have make a decision between Ondrej Palat and Nick Paul? Nick Paul is four years younger than Palat. He’s probably going to cost give or take I think half. If you look at the AAV that Palat has commanded, and if you look for a comparable, I’m looking at Blake Coleman, who is the same birth year as Palat in 1991, he gets six years by $49 million with that sort of boost in price because he’s a winner. And if Ondrej Palat ends up winning three straight Stanley Cups, I think the Coleman contract is probably the floor, so the Lightning, I think they can fit him under the cap, but it will mean having to say goodbye to Nick Paul.”
Frank Seravalli: “So, I don’t think Nick Paul’s going to come cheap either. He had asked the Ottawa Senators for four years by $3 million. They weren’t able to meet that demand for $12 million, now Nick Paul goes [to Tampa], has elevated his game in the playoffs, and has shown that he’s probably going to get more than that.
If you’re Palat though, as successful as this run has been in Tampa, and as much as you’d love to stay there and keep trying to win, if you do win a third straight Stanley Cup, do you just take the money at that point, and say ‘I’ve loved my time here, but this is my one major contract that I’m going to have in my career to really set myself up for life’?
Matt Larkin: “I think it’s a fair question. If you look at the AAV, I believe it’s $5 million he’s been at for his current contract, and yes of course, we know the tax breaks in Tampa, it’s the equivalent of a little bit more, but I think you could argue that he’s delivered far more than that in terms of value, maybe he’s been a $6-6.5 million player. And this is his chance to make sort of his ‘set for life’ kind of money, you have to think about that if you already have the three Cup rings.”
You can watch the full episode here…