WHEN LIGHTNING COACH Jon Cooper put Tyler Johnson, 24, Ondrej Palat, 24, and Nikita Kucherov, 21, on one line in October, the threesome showed an intuitive connection, prompting Cooper to compare them to triplets. Now the trio is propelling Tampa Bay through the playoffs: Through Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals (the Lightning held a 3--2 lead), the trio had scored half of the team's postseason goals. The kicker is that two of the three were not highly regarded prospects, and the third is among the lowest earners on the team.
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An even 50% through Monday...
(TEAM TOTAL: 50)
... while taking up about 11% of the payroll.
(TEAM TOTAL: $66.25 MILLION)
Johnson went unpicked for three years before signing as a free agent while Palat lingered for two.