TAMPA — Another key cog in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup signed on for three more years.
Ondrej Palat, one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy honoring the NHL rookie of the year, signed a three-year contract worth $10 million on Monday. Palat was scheduled to be a restricted free agent on July 1.
“My agent did a great job and I want to thank (Lightning general manager) Steve Yzerman, he gave me this offer and this opportunity,’’ Palat said from the Czech Republic on Monday. “I’m really happy that I will be a part of the Lightning for three more years.’’
In his first full season in the NHL, Palat led Tampa Bay with 59 points and finished second in league rookie scoring behind Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and just ahead of teammate and fellow Calder Trophy finalist Tyler Johnson. Johnson also signed a three-year contract worth $10 million on May 23.
Johnson and Palat have been teammates and linemates for the majority of the past three years and helped lead the Lightning back to the playoffs this season for the first time in three years.
“We have been playing together for the past three years, and now we are signing the same contracts, so that is awesome,’’ Palat said.
Though Palat scored twice in the playoffs, he played with an undisclosed head injury which was not diagnosed as a concussion. Palat took a blow to the back of his neck area against Columbus on April 11 that forced him to miss the final regular season game on April 13 and kept him out of Game 2 against Montreal in the postseason. But he said there are no lingering issues and he has already begun off-season workouts to get ready for next season.
“Everything is fine,’’ Palat said. “I took a couple of weeks off and now I’m ready to go, I’m 100 percent.’’