The New Jersey Devils have removed Ondrej Palat from injured reserve, according to the NHL’s media site. Tyce Thompson, who was recalled recently, no longer appears on the roster and according to Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com is being sent to the Utica Comets. The team also has recalled Akira Schmid, but had an extra roster spot available already so didn’t need a further transaction.
Palat, 31, hasn’t played since October 24 when he logged more than 20 minutes for the first time in a Devils uniform. He would undergo groin surgery a week later, meaning he would miss most of New Jersey’s incredible start to the year. Now that the Devils have started to falter, there’s no better time for the Stanley Cup champion to get back into the lineup.
Though he isn’t an elite offensive player, you will have a hard time finding any former linemates that would say a negative word about playing with Palat. He is the kind of good-at-everything player that every team relies on, and is a consistent presence at both ends of the rink. Marian Hossa-lite, he’s been called in the past, as he allows linemates to cheat offensively while covering a lot of the defensive responsibility.
That’s what the Devils were hoping to add when they signed Palat to a five-year, $30MM contract last summer. The front-loaded deal, which pays him $8.25MM this season, also came with a full no-movement clause for the first three years. The veteran forward is supposed to be able to lend his championship experience to one of the youngest groups in the league, and he’ll be welcomed back to try and help turn things around after a recent skid.
That turnaround may have already started with a decisive 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings last night, but there are some challenges coming on the schedule. The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, both division rivals, are on tap after tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues.