No Shot New Jersey Devils Buy Out Ondrej Palat This Offseason

Fans are pushing a narrative that the New Jersey Devils should buy out Ondrej Palat this offseason. The move wouldn't make much sense, especially considering how much they'd actually save on the contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils / Elsa/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils have a lot of really important decisions to make this offseason. The goalie and head coach are at the top of the list for Tom Fitzgerald if he’s looking to make this team a true contender again. He will shop the market, finding the right fit for each opening. The Devils are still building this team to win in the playoffs, so the narrative going around right now is pretty insane.

Many Devils fans are calling for Ondrej Palat to get bought out this offseason. Palat had a… quiet year. The 33-year-old had 11 goals and 20 assists in 71 games. It was another year where Palat missed time and looked like a shell of himself when he returned. 

Palat has been inconsistent at best with the Devils. After signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the Devils two offseasons ago, he’s had trouble scoring with consistency. This season, he went the entire month of March without a goal. That’s clearly unacceptable from a team fighting for their playoff lives. 

Yet, Tom Fitzgerald will not be buying Palat out. There is no chance this happens. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the Devils like a lot about what Palat brings. Many fans say that they forget Palat is on the team, but the Devils find a positive in this. This shows he’s not making major mistakes. 

Palat also has an impressive playoff resume. It’s obvious his contributions to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who went to back-to-back-to-back Stanley Cup Final, winning two Cups in the process. His final year in Tampa, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games. Even last year, Palat had seven points in 11 playoff games. He was one of the few Devils to show up offensively consistently. 

Palat did so much in last year’s playoff run, including a goal to start a 4-0 rout in Game 5 against the New York Rangers and a huge shorthanded assist in Game 7. That version of stepping up is exactly what the Devils signed him for. 

The Devils also don’t really save much with a buyout. They save less than $600,000 in 2024-25 if they buy him out now. That’s not even worth one minimum salaries player. They would save a little over $3 million the next season and $2 million in 2026-27. The Devils would be on the hook for $1.185 million for three seasons after that. One would assume some serious raise of the salary cap by then, but the Devils would like to use that money on actual players. 

Palat hasn’t lived up to his contract, but he’s in New Jersey to deliver in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Devils have to get there first. They fully expect to make the postseason next season, and they expect Palat to contribute then. This is why Palat is a Devils player for the long haul, or at the very least, next season.