Translation: Ondrej Palat, “If Drouin wasn’t traded, it might have been me or Johnson”

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat discusses his new contract, the core of the team, and his thoughts on Steve Yzerman’s decision to trade Jonathan Drouin.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat recently signed a five year contract worth $26.5 million. He was interviewed by Květoslav Šimek for the Czech language website

If you use this translated text in any way, please credit and Igor Nikonov (@nikonov_igor) of Raw Charge for the translation.

Květoslav Šimek: Did you already have ideas for arguments for arbitration [if your contract was not signed before then]?

Ondřej Palát: I wouldn’t argue for myself. I have a team of agents who have been working on it for two weeks since the moment we filed for arbitration. We had an idea that we would sign a deal before arbitration, but we started working on it. It was a lot of work for lawyers and my agents.

Šimek: If you had to argue why Ondřej Palát is important for the future of Lightning, what would it [your argument in arbitration] be?

Palát: That’s more of a question for my agents. I don’t want to comment on that.

Šimek: Wait, you already have some self-confidence about that, right?

Palát: Yes I do. I am one of the more experienced players on the team. Everyone knows that I will leave everything on the ice and I will play for the team. The points are secondary for me, the team is primary.

My dream is to win the Stanley Cup and I feel that Tampa has a chance in the next three years. I won’t say that we will definitely win, but we have a chance to fight for it.

That's why I'm glad that we agreed [to a contract]. The core of the team is experienced. I believe that next season will be better than the last one.

Šimek: The NHL is largely about business. Does the amount and five-year length of your contract correspond to what you can offer to Tampa?

Palát: I think so. I was thinking mainly about signing a longer contract. I didn’t want to be traded and I have it guaranteed [with a no trade clause] for four years. And there are couple of teams which I can possibly choose for the fifth year [with a modified no-trade clause]. But staying in Tampa was important to me and we worked out a good deal with [General Manager] Steve Yzerman.

Šimek: Tyler Johnson signed a seven-year deal for $35 million a couple of days before you. Did you know that you would be the next [contract]?

Palát: Yes, I was in touch with Yzerman. I’m glad to stay with Tyler. The team’s core stayed intact except for Jonathan Drouin, who was traded. We [the core] played together for the fourth consecutive year and we will play together for a few more years. It is unusual for the team's core to stay the same for so long. I’m glad. Now it is up to us to do something about it and to get as far as possible.

Šimek: You mentioned the Jonathan Drouin trade. What is your opinion [of that trade]?

Palát: Yzerman calculated that someone had to go. If Drouin wasn’t traded, it might have been me or Johnson. Drouin signed a good deal in Montreal. He wouldn’t get the same contract in Tampa. I think he wanted to go.

Šimek: You will be the third best paid Czech in the NHL with the new contract. How does that sound to you?

Palát: I don’t really like when people talk or write about it like that. I’m a humble person. Modesty remains my priority. I won’t be spending millions now.

Šimek: Do you have to look at it that way so you don’t lose your mind because of the money?

Palát: I don’t think so. I had a nice contract before [3 year deal worth $3.33 million AAV] and I didn’t lose my mind. On the contrary, I think I will feel better next season.

There won’t be the pressure of waiting for negotiations. There will be only be pressure to make the playoffs and get the best result, but I’m looking forward to that kind of pressure.

Šimek: You finished the season early, so how is your off-season training going?

Palát: I’m training in Ostrava for month and a half, then I’m going to train with Frýdek in August. I'm working with Adam Polášek’s brother Radim Polášek and I’m very satisfied. It’s brisk and hard training, focusing on dynamics and speed. That is today’s NHL. I want to be 100% ready so that I feel good and have a good season.

Šimek: How big is your group?

Palát: I’m training with Radek Faksa. Matěj Stránský was there too and couple of guys from Vitkovice, including Rosťa Olesz, Roman Szturc and Ondra Šedivý, who is in Austria now. I look forward to the ice in Frýdek, where Marek Malík and Mr. Juřík are. I have always been happy. The training is always high quality.