4 star forwards the Detroit Red Wings need to sign this offseason

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Detroit Red Wings, Ondrej Palat
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Red Wings need to consider signing Ondrej Palat.

Ondrej Palat is someone Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is very familiar with, dating back to his Tampa Bay Lightning days.

The Lightning drafted Palat with the 208th choice in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Level Draft. Needless to say, he’s an overachiever.

Unlike the first two pending free agents I’ve suggested, Palat fits more of the depth scoring role and would best be suited playing on Detroit’s third line but is a capable second-line winger if pressed into duty.

Palat has recorded 13 goals and 28 points in Tampa over 36 games this season while averaging just under 18 minutes per night. Palat has only reached the 20-goal mark once in his career, which was in his rookie season, but he’s become a consistent mid-teens scoring throughout his career, which suggests he’d fit nicely as a third-liner on a contender.

If you follow the Lightning, you probably wonder why I refer to Palat as a perfect third liner, knowing he often flanks Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point on Tampa’s top line.

That’s because Palat fills a similar role to Bertuzzi with the Lightning. Palat is a gritty, hard-working forward that isn’t afraid to throw his weight around at any given time. He also got a nose for the front of the net and is the worker-bee of the line doing all the dirty work that’s necessary to get the puck to the teams’ bonified scores.

I envision Palat playing alongside Namestnikov and Zadina or Veleno. He’d also fit in nicely with Suter and Vrana on the team’s second unit and has enough grittiness to play with Rasmussen and Erne in more of a pesky fourth-line role.

Palat is coming off a deal that pays him $5.3 million, and knowing Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point, and Ryan McDonagh are all high-priced pieces locked up long-term. Meaning the Lightning does not have any room to extend Palat without making a significant trade moving one of the players mentioned.

Palat turns 31-years old this March and won’t be likely in line for a considerable raise. The Detroit Red Wings may be able to secure his services for $5 million per season on a three-year deal. If Yzerman cannot land Forsberg or Hertl, Palat would be a perfect consolation prize.