Tatar signed his previous deal, a four-year, $21.2 million contract, with the Detroit Red Wings back in 2017. He was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights shortly thereafter, finishing the season with the Stanley Cup runner-up, before being traded yet again, this time to the Canadiens.
Now, the Devils have a top-six forward looking to continue his success on the ice.
Tatar Brings Scoring, Playmaking Ability
Tatar has shown flashes of brilliance ever since joining the Red Wings full time in 2013-14. In 625 career NHL games the 30-year-old has 377 points on 176 goals and 201 assists, and last season he managed 30 points in 50 games before being shelved for the season after appearing in just five playoff games. Though he’s not known for his two-way ability, the offensive threat he brings to the game will certainly bolster New Jersey’s scoring output.
Tatar possesses the skill set to do some very special things, and has been a reliable regular season producer for every team he’s played with. He has a huge impact on the ice, finishing each of the last three seasons with a Corsi-For percentage above 62 percent. In fact, his lowest-ever Corsi-For percentage was 55.7, a number that some teams desperately need to help bolster their on-ice prowess.
Faceoffs are not his strong suit, as he has a career mark of 38.8 percent, but he’s not called upon terribly often in the circle, with just 206 career attempts. Last season he was 12-for-27 on draws.
Fit With The Devils
Tatar is a good fit in New Jersey, especially considering the Devils were sixth-worst in goals-for last season, scoring just 145 times in 56 games. For the sake of comparison, the league-leading Colorado Avalanche recorded 197 in the same number of games. The 30-year-old winger can be counted on to produce 30-40 points per season, considering he has averaged nearly 38 points per season since joining the NHL in 2010-11.
If Tatar can return to his form from both 2018-19 and 2019-20, the Devils would without question celebrate the pickup, considering he recorded 58 and 61 points in both of those seasons, respectively. With that kind of production, this signing would look like a steal.
First and foremost, the playoff-starved Devils will immediately benefit from Tatar’s veteran presence, and a super reasonable cost. How the winger can benefit the team once they make the postseason, however, remains to be seen. He’s been a healthy scratch multiple times, and in 40 career playoff games, he has just 12 points and a plus/minus rating of minus-7.
That said, the Devils need the help to just make it to the playoffs. Consider this — Since losing the Stanley Cup Final in 2011-12 New Jersey has made just one postseason appearance — a first-round exit in 2017-18.
Time will tell how this one plays out, but all signs point to New Jersey addressing a major need with this signing, provided a bump in scoring follows suit.
A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.