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Palat signs five-year contract with Lightning

Tampa Bay forward gets $5.3 million per season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Forward Ondrej Palat signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. It has an average annual value of $5.3 million and runs through the 2021-22 NHL season.

"I'm very satisfied," Palat said, according to a translation provided by his agents, Sport Invest Marketing. "The negotiations have been going on for a pretty long period of time, but all the time there was mutual respect and a desire to make a deal from both sides. Everyone has to make a compromise, but in the end everybody is satisfied."

Palat, who was a restricted free agent, was scheduled to have a salary arbitration hearing in Toronto on July 25.

 

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"Obviously it was in the back of my mind," Palat said of the hearing. "Because of that, I appreciate it even more that we've reached our goal through an agreement."

The Lightning also avoided an arbitration hearing with center Tyler Johnson, signing him to a seven-year, $35 million contract Monday.

"We're satisfied with the result," Palat's agent, Robert Spalenka, said. "Ondrej will be an (unrestricted) free agent and he'll have a chance to sign one more long-term deal after this contract terminates."

Video: DAL@TBL: Palat cranks wrister past Lehtonen for PPG

Palat, 26, had 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists), five power-play goals, 15 power-play points and three game-winning goals in 75 games with the Lightning last season, when Tampa Bay did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I've been training in Ostrava (Czech Republic) for about a month and a half," Palat said. "I want to be 100 percent ready. [Last] season didn't meet neither our own nor our fans' expectations and we have to do a lot to make it up. And I believe we [will] succeed."

Selected by Tampa Bay in the seventh round (No. 208) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Palat has 218 points (74 goals, 144 assists) in 307 regular-season games and 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 46 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"I like that pressure," Palat said. "I'm one of the guys with the longest tenure [on] our team and it's natural that there will be a lot of expectations about my performance. And I'm ready to meet those expectations."

Tampa Bay this offseason traded its other restricted free agent forward, Jonathan Drouin, to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev, and Drouin signed a six-year, $33 million contract with Montreal.

Tampa Bay has signed free agent wing Chris Kunitz and defenseman Dan Girardi, and re-signed defenseman Andrej Sustr. The Lightning are about $3.2 million under the NHL salary cap of $75 million, according to CapFriendly.com.

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