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Devils announce major last minute roster changes ahead of tonight's game

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

The New Jersey Devils clash with the St. Louis Blues in Newark tonight.

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Ondrej Palat (146-280-426 in 634 GP), will rejoin his team (Devils) following an 8 week absence with a groin injury.

While playing in his most recent game against Washington on October 24th, he didn't quite feel himself.

Later on, MRI scans confirmed that he would require Groin Surgery.

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Palat has since spoken about his injury ahead of tonights game:

"It always sucks when you're injured. And especially when it's my first time I changed teams, I'm not that familiar with the guys. Of course, I want to go with them on road trips. I want to be in games, I want to be part of the team."

The decision to have surgery was not easy for Palat considering all the factors.

"I didn't just talk to one doctor, I talked to all the best doctors in the country to make sure everybody saw the MRI, everybody saw my groin," Palat affirmed. "And at the end of the day, with the decision, all the doctors told me the same thing, that the smart way and long term to be better is to have that surgery right away. And so, I did that, and I don't regret it. I'm very happy I did it."

One thing was clear from the start of Palat's absence, it was going to leave a very big hole that he had been brought in to fill. His veteran leadership, having played on the biggest stage this league offers, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and as Miles Wood recently said, a player who "doesn't make little mistakes," are parts of what makes him such an important piece of the puzzle built in part in the off-season. He was from Day 1 a player the rest of the team was eager to integrate. Consequently, to see Palat rejoin practice in a full capacity and to see him practice at the same pace as his teammates has the entire group anticipating his near return.

"He brings a lot, he's won it all," Nico Hischier said after a recent practice. "He knows exactly what you need to do in certain games, in certain stretches. He is definitely just a big part of our group, we're happy to have him back because he's a guy that a lot of people look up to and do what he says. That's why we brought him in. He's obviously just a great leader for us."

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After having some progress in his surgery, he was allowed to be around his team mates on the ice, which was a great opportunity for him to get to personally connect with everyone.

Later, Palat shared:

"This group is very young and very welcoming, It was great when they saw me and they were like 'Pally, we need you back,' or something like that. They're awesome guys there and I felt very welcome."

The Devils GM said:

"I think it slots everybody properly, Now again, he's not going to have his A-Game, 100 percent of where he can be (upon his return) like at training camp. There are reps and battling is different in a game than (rehabbing an injury). So, wherever the coaches decide to put him if he starts on our third line, starts in our top six, it's going to slot somebody down and make us stronger."

"I'm not worried when I'm going to play and jump over those boards, I'm just going to play," Palat said. "I'm just excited to go back and get more involved."

In six games with the Devils, Palat has scored three goals. While being a key contributor every time he stepped on the ice.

One thing was for sure, the 10-year NHL veteran wasn't going to let an injury set himself back.