Kraken Add Veteran
There was a time when the Detroit Red Wings, as they attempted to continue their string of 25 consecutive seasons making the Stanley Cup playoffs, that Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist were considered the next forwards to carry on the tradition of the “Winged Wheel”, assuming the responsibilities from Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
It looked particularly promising early on in their careers after both helped the affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins win the 2013 Calder Cup championship, with Tatar being named playoff most valuable player.
But with Detroit’s playoff string ending in 2017, a change of management on the horizon, and a full rebuild kicking in, eventually the Red Wings went a different direction with both players.
Nyquist didn’t show the work ethic, and despite three 20+ goal seasons, he was eventually moved to the San Jose Sharks in 2019 for a couple of picks.
Tatar didn’t last that long. Detroit jumped at a chance to get a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-round pick from the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline in 2018 as that club looked to add pieces for what would be their inaugural season run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Tatar became a reserve forward, inserted into eight playoff games for Vegas that spring, adding a goal and an assist after appearing in 20 regular season games for the club.
After being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens and later signing as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche, Tatar is now a Kraken, acquired from Colorado on Friday for a 2024 5th-round NHL Draft pick.
20 Goals, Seven Times
Aside from reaching the 20-goal mark three times early in his career with Detroit, Tatar also eclipsed that total four other seasons, twice with the Habs and once with the Devils. He also reached exactly 20 between two clubs in 2017-’18, the season he was moved at the deadline.
Despite some recent heroics from the 4th-line, the Kraken clearly need some scoring help. They pick up Tatar, who’s struggled in his first season with the Avalanche finding ice time, inexpensively. Handing out a 5th-round pick doesn’t exactly dent Seattle’s long-term plan of building through the draft.
With Andre Burakovsky remaining out of the line-up again and with the club announcing Jaden Schwartz being moved to long-term injured reserve on Friday, retroactive to November 28th when he was hurt in Chicago, a move to bolster the scoring depth became imminent.
In 27 games this season Tatar had one goal and eight assists. The 33-year-old Slovakian was likely looking for a change of scenery and he found it, while the Kraken hope they’ve found another goal scorer who can forecheck as they attempt to scramble back into a playoff spot.
The manoeuvre also serves as a try-out. Tatar is at a critical time in his career, on a one-year deal that’s paying him $1.5-million this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. A strong performance might give him a chance to stick around or sign a worthwhile deal elsewhere.
As it stands, Tatar is an emergency insertion, insurance policy with some potential late career upside.
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