In an offseason move that came after the initial free agency frenzy died down, the New Jersey Devils made an addition to their forward group by signing Tomas Tatar. It was widely viewed as a good move at the time; the Devils lacked depth on the wings and two years of Tatar was not seen as enough to block any of the players the club was developing. There was some murmurs about Tatar being on the decline and the fact that he was a healthy scratch numerous times throughout the prior playoffs for Montreal. The deal, however, didn’t affect the cap structure of the team and again was short enough as to not block prospects who became NHL ready.
After essentially being through the first half of the deal, it’s apparent that Tatar has not been a great fit with Jersey’s Team. While 30 points in 76 contests isn’t bad (and was sadly good enough for 9th on this team), his contributions at times were few and far between. Additionally, from watching the games this season, Tatar always seemed to be out of synch with or a step behind his line mates.
So would it make sense for the Devils to look to move on from him for next season? In terms of salary, probably not. Tatar’s money/cap hit isn’t going to be anything to pull the Devils down, and certainly won’t impact them from signing/re-signing needed players for next season. Now, if they were to try and extend him for the same amount beyond next season (which right now would be utterly foolish), then there could be some cap issues, but whether the Devils get their act together or not next season, Tatar’s salary structure does little to hurt the team.
Now the area that may have fans and organization members alike ready to move on is what I mentioned before. Tatar just did not seem to click with...well, anybody that the Devils played him with! While he never was placed/”demoted” to fourth line duty during 2021-22, Tatar was shuffled between the three other lines and with a variety of combinations of players. He never really found any chemistry, nor did his point total really benefit from playing with Devils who had much higher point totals than he did. One could even argue that he only hit 30 points this season because of those players, and that he didn’t really have a positive affect on the offense on his own.
I also think Devils fans would rather see Jesper Boqvist, Nolan Foote and/or Alex Holtz in the Tatar role next season, rather than a (possibly further) declining Tatar again. While all three of those players might not be ready for full-time action, the contributions they should bring to the main roster would probably at least equal those of Tatar. If the Devils feel said prospects are ready, they could look to ship Tatar out even with salary retention, as at that point the roster spot might be more important than the money withheld.
Do you think the Devils should look to cut ties with Tatar this offseason? Do you think he can turn it around with one more season in New Jersey? Do you think he’s on the decline? Would you rather see a young player in the organization in his role instead? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!