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Bolt Prospect of the Week: 2-25-13

Ondrej Palatdoesnt make headlines.

The Syracuse Crunch forward is a complimentary winger, usually photographed in the background of a dramatic goal or its celebration. But without him, that play probably doesnt happen.

Palat gives a scoring line 2-way ability or playmaking, whichever is needed the most. LikeMartin St. Louiswith the Lightning, if a coach adds him to a line, that line is getting better.

This trait didnt just begin this year in Syracuse or last season with Norfolk.

In junior with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Palat was on one of the league's best lines alongside Flyers top-10 pick Sean Couturier. Surely Couturier was responsible for Palats success. Sure, Palat had some skill and decent size (6-0), but he didnt skate like the wind so he wasnt selected in his initial draft year and lasted until 208th overall in 2011.

The prevailing thought was simple: Couturier carried him.

The linemate situation was reminiscent of RimouskisBrad Richardsin 1998. Richards success was due to Oceanic linemateVincent Lecavalier, right? Wrong.

Richards, who fell to the third round while Lecavalier was taken first overall, made a name for himself on his own with Rimouski and later with the Lightning, leading the club - which included Lecavalier - to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Similarly, Palat cant be ignored any longer. Hes a legitimate NHL prospect.

"I came to Norfolk last year and they thought I was more of a power forward that scores goals," Palat told BoltProspects.comearlier this season. He quickly showed the organization the defensive and playmaking sides of his game, powered by his high hockey IQ.

Physical measurables dont always make a prospect; its what's between his ears.

One of the Lightning farms best decision makers, Palat upped his offensive game this week something hes had to do more of since fellow CrunchersCory Conacher,Alex Killorn, andRichard Panikwere promoted to the Lightning.

Whatever the team needs.

Palat had seven points in four games last week, including three multi-point games. On Monday and Wednesday he had two assists against Albany and Toronto, respectively. After a scoreless game against Springfield on Saturday, he had a season-high three assists against Connecticut on Sunday.

For his performance, he is our Bolt Prospect of the Week.

The Crunch are on a season-high seven-game win streak, which coincides perfectly with Palats return from injury seven games ago. They won just two of six without him.

Palat, who has seven goals and 33 assists this year to go with a plus-22 rating, projects as a coachs dream, top-9 winger at the NHL level who can play in all game situations and make his linemates better. If he is able to add some strength this offseason, he could push for a spot with the Lightning as soon as next year.

Dont overlook him.



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