We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for February 25 is … Ondrej Palat , W, Syracuse (AHL – USA)
Ondrej Palat doesn’t 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 doesn’t happen.
Palat gives a scoring line 2-way ability or playmaking, whichever is needed the most. Like Martin St. Louis  with the Lightning, if a coach adds him to a line, that line gets better.
This trait didn’t just begin this year in Syracuse or last season with Norfolk when he was helping the Admirals to the Calder Cup.
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 Palat’s success. Yes, Palat had some skill and decent size (6-0), but he didn’t skate like the wind so he wasn’t selected in his initial draft year and lasted until 208th overall in 2011.
The prevailing thought was simple: Couturier carried him.
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 can’t be ignored any longer. He’s 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 Bolt Prospects earlier this season. He quickly showed the organization the defensive and playmaking sides of his game, powered by his high hockey IQ.
Physical measurables don’t always make a prospect; it’s what's between the ears.
One of the Lightning farm’s best decision makers, Palat upped his offensive game this week – something he’s had to do more of since fellow Crunchers Cory Conacher , Alex Killorn , and Richard Panik  were 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.
The Crunch are on a season-high seven-game win streak, which coincides perfectly with Palat’s 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 coach’s 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.
Don’t overlook him.
Honorable Mention: Like Riku Helenius  last week, Cedrick Desjardins , who had two shutouts, is too old to be considered a prospect by our site. Other candidates included Tyler Johnson , who showed he was very good at the hockey with five goals, including a hat trick; reigning Prospect of the Week Nikita Kucherov , who had a four-goal game; and Crunch defenseman Mark Barberio , who had a highlight-reel goal and four points.
Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:
February 19, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada 
February 12, Alex Killorn, C/W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA 
February 5, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA 
January 30, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada 
January 23, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA 
January 15, Artem Sergeev, D, Val-d’Or, QMJHL-Canada 
World Juniors break
December 17, Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse, AHL-Canada 
December 10, Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada 
December 3, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada 
November 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA 
November 20, Richard Panik, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA 
November 12, Alex Hutchings, W, Florida, ECHL-USA 
November 5, Nikita Kucherov, W, Quebec, QMJHL-Canada 
October 30, Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough, OHL-Canada 
October 23, Dustin Tokarski, G, Syracuse, AHL-USA 
October 15, Cory Conacher, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA 
October 9, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada 
October 2, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia 
September 25, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia