Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman completed his offseason to-do list by signing "model player" Ondrej Palat to a $26.5 million, five-year deal.
The Lightning and Palat avoided arbitration and settled on the contract Friday. The Czech left winger will count $5.3 million against the salary cap through the 2021-22 season.
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The 26-year-old Palat had 17 goals and 35 assists in 75 games last season. He has 74 goals and 144 assists in 307 NHL games and is considered one of the better defensive wingers in hockey.
"His value is probably greater than if you just look at the goals and assists," Yzerman said by phone. "He's really a complete player. He plays in all situations for us, and he's very effective in all situations. Whether we're on the power play, killing a penalty, 5-on-5, we're up a goal, down a goal, late in the game it's tied -- he's going to be in in all those situations, and he plays really hard" (see full story).
Devils: Hischier not fazed by being No. 1 pick
NEWARK, N.J. -- At the end of the second of three practice sessions Friday at the New Jersey Devils' development camp, top overall pick Nico Hischier, was on his hands and knees, scooping up pucks, just like everyone else.
The novelty of being the No. 1 draft pick is rapidly wearing off for Hischier, thanks to the three-day developmental camp at the Barnabas Health Hockey House, the Devils' practice facility next to the Prudential Center.
"Right after the draft, I was living the life a little," said the 18-year-old Swiss player who had 38 goals and 48 assists last season for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "I was doing all these fun things, like going to a baseball game and a soccer game. I was in Times Square and was on television. But now, I'm here and I'm working hard on the ice."
Hischier doesn't want special treatment.
"I don't want to be known as the guy who didn't pick the pucks up," Hischier said. "I'm still one of the younger guys here. I want to fit in. I'm going to focus on that" (see full story).
Kings: Gravel avoids arbitration with 1-year deal
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings re-signed Kevin Gravel to a one-year, $650,000 contract extension Friday, avoiding arbitration with the restricted free agent defenseman.
The Kings also signed restricted free agents Justin Auger, Andrew Crescenzi, Zachary Leslie, Kurtis MacDermid and Michael Mersch.
Gravel broke through as an NHL regular last season, scoring seven points in 49 games while getting a steadily increasing role on the power play. He scored his first and only NHL goal Feb. 23 against Boston.
Gravel filed for arbitration earlier this month after receiving a qualifying offer from Los Angeles. He was the Kings' only remaining restricted free agent who logged significant time in the NHL last year.
Auger, Crescenzi, Leslie, MacDermid and Mersch are all regulars with the Kings' AHL affiliate in Ontario.