News broke today that forward Ondej Palat has returned to Tampa Bay for further medical testing after an unidentified injury during last night’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Palat did not play for the last part of the third period, with speculation that it was due to a slash from Jared Spurgeon during the five-on-three power play in the third. (According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, “Palat suffered a lower-body injury getting speared by Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon in the third period of Saturday’s loss.”)
BREAKING: Ondrej Palat went back to Tampa for further tests on Monday. He’s out indefinitely. A call up coming #TBLightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) January 21, 2018
The injury could have occurred at the 7:15 mark of this video.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have already been struggling and losing a top six forward like Palat is not what the team needs. We’ll see what the team says in the next day or so about his prognosis, and how long he’ll be out.
In the meantime, the most team has called up forwards Matthew Peca and Michael Bournival. A left handed, playmaking center, Peca has eight goals, 23 assists, and 31 points in 42 games for the Crunch. He leads the team in assists and points. The other candidate, left winger Adam Erne, is currently day-to-day with an injury and so ruled out from consideration.
In 2016-17, Peca put up 41 points in 68 games for the Crunch. He was also apart of the group of forwards that received call-ups later in the season after trades and injuries had reduced the Lightning’s forward corps. In ten games, playing mostly a third line role with some power play time on the second unit, he contributed a goal and an assist for two points.
Peca has been on the verge of making the NHL especially with his play this season. He’ll be waiver eligible starting with the beginning of the 2018-19 season. The team is in a position where they’ll need to make a decision about him and Erne’s future this summer as they’re both in a similar position. For Peca, a call-up to replace Palat will give him the opportunity to show he’s grown since his call-up last season and can produce in a third line role in the NHL.
For Bournival, he had a promising beginning to his career in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, his career got side tracked by multiple concussions that meant he lost most of two seasons. He has 108 games in the NHL with 12 goals, 10 assists, and 22 points. He played in 19 games for the Lightning during the 2016-17 season with two goals and three points. With the Crunch this season, Bournival leads the team with 13 goals and is second on the team with 27 points.
Bournival is a fast, energetic winger. More of a fourth liner, he could chip in on a third line role for the Lightning. It’s also possible that someone else is dinged up and Bournival is being brought up for some insurance during this four game road trip.
If the lines were up to me, this is what I would run out in Monday night’s game.
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Yanni Gourde - Matthew Peca - Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan