When the Devils acquired Ondrej Palat during last year’s offseason, there was a big reason for getting him. The idea was that he would be a guy who would make a clutch play and be that veteran who could lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final. When the Devils paid Palat a five-year $30 million contract, you should expect solid results.
He didn’t exactly turn into what they were looking for in his first year. For a guy getting paid all that money, he only scored 23 points. He didn’t look that great, mainly due to his groin injury at the end of October. Palat ended up being out indefinitely for two months, returning at the beginning of January of 2023. He did have great moments, like scoring two goals against the Canucks in February.
Despite not having a successful regular season, he continues to be clutch in the playoffs. In game 5 of the Rangers, he scored the first goal to put the Devils up 1-0. In game 7 of the series, he made an excellent play to set up Michael McLeod to put the Devils up 1-0 and help win that game.
Palat also scored a powerplay goal in Game 3 against the Hurricanes. So there’s no lack of clutch plays that Palat can pull off. Now, in the 2nd season of his contract, he needs to showcase he can be a great player in the regular season, helping the Devils young core to be great. This contract cannot be the one that Tom Fitzgerald will want to regret. So it’s up to Palat to stay healthy and have a solid year. If Palat does that, we could see him helping the Devils become the best team in the NHL in a few years.