New Jersey Devils: Why Is Tomas Tatar Still Available?

New Jersey Devils left wing Tomas Tatar (90): Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils left wing Tomas Tatar (90): Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils traded Yegor Sharangovich and a third-round pick to the Calgary Flames for Tyler Toffoli. It was a fantastic trade for the Devils, adding another possible 30+ goal scorer to the lineup. The trade was one indication that the Devils weren’t going to make an offer to Tomas Tatar, who was headed to unrestricted free agency.

Many thought Tatar was going to sign pretty quickly. He had a very good regular season, scoring 20 goals and adding 28 assists. There were times he was driving offense for Nico Hischier, and he was such a great compliment for an offense that finally broke out.

Tatar had the Devils fans in a frenzy when he signed a two-year deal in 2021. He was an analytical darling that lost some luster in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens strangely benched Tatar on their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Who knows what would have happened if they played him against the Tampa Bay Lightning? Maybe that Canada Stanley Cup drought would be over.

However, those playoff demons reared their ugly head this season. Tatar played 12 games against the Rangers and Hurricanes this postseason, and he scored exactly one goal and had zero assists. It was a terrible run, which is now a trend for Tatar. He had bad experiences in Montreal, Vegas, and now New Jersey.

Prior to the postseason, it seemed like a top priority for the Devils to re-sign Tatar. He was crucial to the top six. The playoffs left a bad taste that lingered. That’s when the Devils traded for Toffoli. We’re not sure if the Toffoli trade is mutually exclusive to the Tatar failure, but since they play the same position, it’s easy to draw that line.

So now that we know why the Devils aren’t re-signing Tatar, we must ask why any team hasn’t signed him. There is a chance he hasn’t received the perfect deal and he’s waiting for that to come in. It’s possible another team at the end of their rebuild wants to sign him. Maybe the Columbus Blue Jackets or Detroit Red Wings gave him a call, but he didn’t want to take a chance with those clubs.

The prevailing rumor right now is the Pittsburgh Penguins want to sign him. He made it clear he received an offer.

Obviously, the money situation is complicated in Pittsburgh. After trading for Erik Karlsson, the Penguins are already over the salary cap. , There’s a possibility will be putting Jake Guentzel on LTIR as he recovers from ankle surgery. That might be very short term, however, and he might not qualify for LTIR at all.

It seems like the Penguins and Tatar are a match, and he’s just waiting for them to work out the salaries, but it’s also possible Tatar may have to settle for a PTO. If that’s the case, multiple other teams would also want to make that deal.

Next. Devils Should Keep Jonathan Toews On Speed Dial. dark

The playoffs really cost Tatar a lot of money. He might have been able to get the same contract he had with the Devils (two years, $4.5 million per season). Now, he’s going to get a deal much closer to $1 million. Tatar is 32 years old. He has limited time to get a big deal. He might be facing his last NHL deal if he’s not careful. If it’s with the Penguins or whoever, he needs to prove himself when it actually matters this season.