Ondrei Palat is ready to take the next step in the NHL. I believe based on previous years statistics and current projections, this year he will surpass his former point total with an exceptional Lightning team around him. He has continually been a 50+ point player with one exceptional season in 14-15 with 63 points. This season he is poised to break that mold based in his increase in average ice time, a slight increase in shooting percentage, and a consistent shot total. Now that he has had several years to develop and provide a sample size of shot, he is a fantasy monster.

As of now the Lightning are ranked extremely high in Vegas odds just one season away from missing the playoffs. Currently Tampa is ranked third by Vegas at 12-1 to win the cup, sitting behind the Penguins and Oilers.

I think those odds are extremely reasonable at this point. Stamkos has actively said he’s extremely excited for training camp this year. This should be a good sign for all Bolts fans, as they have significant talent on every space of the ice this season.

The Lightning traded Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens on June 15, making Palat the best fantasy left wing on their roster entering the season. He played most of 2016-17 with Kucherov, Drouin and Hedman on the first power-play unit, scoring an NHL career-high 15 PPP in 75 games. He has exceeded 50 points in each of the three seasons in which he played at least 75 games and has plenty of past experience with Kucherov and Tyler Johnson at even strength. With Stamkos in the frey as another option to pass and score off of, Palat is poised for an excellent season.

If Johnson and Palat play on the second line to spread out Tampa Bay’s scoring, Namestnikov could end up flanking Stamkos and Kucherov on the top line — reuniting the trio that played thrived together early last season. Namestnikov, who could become a restricted free agent July 1, is only 24 and scored eight points over a 13-game span with Stamkos and Kucherov. He’s a deep sleeper with upside based on those potential line mates.

Palat, who signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract ($5.3 million AAV) on July 14 had 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists) in 75 games in 2016-17, and is often mentioned by coach Jon Cooper as one of Tampa Bay’s unheralded leaders.

He is an awesome depth winger option with huge upside. He is only single positional, but his ability to score on the powerplay, and be on a winning team pads his plus minus stats. Expect Palat to shoot at the same percentage, he had a career low (10.5%) last season, but averaged more time on ice. This is awesome news for followers of Palat.

He will retain the same amount of ice time this season (including on the PP), and likely will be shooting at a slightly higher percentage. The reasoning behind that relies on the Stamkos factor. Statistically adding a player like Stamkos back into the lineup means that Palat has more time with the puck, and is matched up with a lesser player. This will have a direct correlation to both more points and a higher shooting percentage. The more Stamkos produces increases the likelihood that Palat will produce. Having more depth increases Jon Cooper’s ability to match up his second line to gain an advantage later in the game.

Expect Palat to have a hot start, and a solid season. He will not be overrated in your fantasy drafts, as currently he is ranked 157th on NHL.com, which is WAY too low for a 60+ point player. In a 10 man league, he might not even be drafted with 15 players per team.

I genuinely think he should be ranked around the 100th player in the league, based off of previous stats and future projections. He is currently ranked equivalent to Patrick Maroon, who has offense generated for him. Palat has the benefit of being an independent scorer, with line mates who have exceeded 40 goals in a season. Stamkos has a career high of 60 Goals.
91. Jordan Eberle, RW, NYI (96) – 51 points last season –
92. Rickard Rakell, C/LW, ANA (97) – 51 points last season.
96. Mark Stone, RW, OTT (100) 54 points last season
97. Jason Spezza, C/RW, DAL (103)  50 points
98. Ryan Kesler, C, ANA (106) 58 points
99. Eric Staal, C, MIN (116) – 65 points last season
100. Alexander Wennberg, C, CBJ (145) – 59 points last season

This is the NHL.Com list of players ranked 50 places above Palat. I think he has the potential to top all of these players by at least 10 points.

Palat is underrated, plain and simple he was tied for 83rd in points last season, on a borderline down year.

Look for him to be in the top 50 in points this season. 64 Points would have him tied for 30th in the league in points, which is more than reasonable for the young winger.

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