Yzerman ‘hopeful’ to have deal with Palat before arbitration


Steve Yzerman had a huge job this summer trying to deal with three major restricted free agents — Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat.

So far, he has already settled two of the situations by trading Drouin to Montreal for a top defense prospect, then on Monday signing Johnson to a seven-year, $35 million contract extension.

That just leaves Palat, who is scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 25.

Yzerman said on Monday, via Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times, that he is “hopeful” they can reach an agreement before it reaches that point. In most cases, it does, because neither the team nor the player want to go through the unpleasantness of an arbitration hearing where every flaw and criticism is magnified in an effort to get the best possible deal for the team.

Given how similar their careers have been to this point, and the fact they are coming off of nearly identical seasons offensively and are the same age, Palat should probably be looking for a contract similar to the one Johnson just received. Their careers to this point have basically mirrored one another.

Virtually identical, as were their 2016-17 seasons when Palat averaged 0.69 points per game and Johnson averaged 0.68.

Assuming Palat’s new deal is similar to Johnson’s the Lightning should be in pretty good shape under the salary cap as they still have a little more than $9 million in salary cap space remaining with 20 players under contract for this season. While they have some more restricted free agents to deal with next season, they will not have to worry about another major contract for a core player until after the 2018-19 season when Nikita Kucherov will again be eligible for restricted free agency. The fact they are still in that sort of shape under the cap even though they have more than $12 million going to Ryan Callahan, Alex Killorn and Dan Girardi speaks to the types of value they are getting with some of their core players.