After two seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Tomas Tatar is now a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The speedy winger with solid offensive touch was part of a Devils team in 2022-23 that saw a great turnaround and even entered the Stanley Cup playoffs as a contender, only to see those dreams of postseason glory dashed in a second-round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Though he had been rumored to be connected to the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, or the New York Islanders for weeks, Tatar signed with the Avalanche, just a year out from winning the 2022 Stanley Cup. The deal is for one year at $1.5 million. The 32-year-old Tatar is coming off a 20-goal campaign for the Devils and should continue producing at that level for his new team.
Tatar’s Fit with the Avalanche
Tatar will turn 33 in December and hasn’t yet seen a decline due to age from his prime production years. He can give you solid offensive production, though, with a team like the Avalanche, he may find himself more on the third line. With the Montreal Canadiens, he hit 25 goals in 2018-19, and during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season, put up nearly a point per game with 61 in 68.
His numbers dropped for a full 82-game season during his first year in New Jersey in 2021-22 to only 15 goals and 30 points, plus a career-low negative-22 plus/minus rating, among the worst on his team. But last year, he rebounded strongly with 20 goals, 48 points and a career-high positive-41 plus/minus. That total led the Devils and was good enough for fifth in the NHL overall. Tatar’s maturing game caught the eye of voters, as he picked some votes for the Selke Trophy for the first time.
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He saw limited time on the power play with the Devils, picking up only a goal last year and two the year before, but he can still give quality minutes with the man advantage. Plus, Tatar does have playoff experience, though he played only two games with the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He did not appear in the Final during the Canadiens’ surprise run in 2020. After last season’s second-round exit, he will want to make a deeper run this year.
This a low-risk, high-reward kind of signing for both Tatar and his new team. Though Tatar likely won’t get the same kind of minutes as he had enjoyed previously, he should slot in well on the third line, where his speed and defensive acumen will be a boon. Given that team captain Gabriel Landeskog has a history of injury issues, Tatar provides the Avalanche with insurance, provided Landeskog gets injured again.
For the Avalanche, the sting of that first-round loss to the Seattle Kraken in last season’s playoffs surely has not worn off. The team was ranked in the top ten in both offense and defense in 2022-23, and Tatar can provide a spark at both ends of the ice. And his experience, along with his speed and tools, can help avenge that loss and help keep the team in the mix for another Stanley Cup run.