One of the most attractive remaining free-agent options is now off the market.
The New Jersey Devils added another weapon to their steadily-growing forward corps, signing Tomas Tatar to a two-year deal that carries an average annual value of $4.5 million.
Tatar is one of the more confounding players to evaluate among those who have switched teams this summer.
The 30-year-old is an undoubtedly effective forward, racking up 30 points in 50 games last season for the Montreal Canadiens while producing stellar possession numbers and generating offense at a top-six level. And yet, on a Canadiens team that lacked consistent goal-scoring, Tatar wound up as a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs, even watching the entire Stanley Cup Final from the press box as his teammates went home empty-handed.
The reason as to why Tatar found himself in Dominique Ducharme's doghouse is simply not clear.
The immediate theory would be that, despite his offensive prowess, Tatar's defensive game was too lacking to compensate. But that's not the case at all.
According to a model by Elite Prospect's JFresh, Tatar is actually one of the better defenders in the league, ranking in the 67th percentile among all NHL forwards in even-strength defense, with the 2021 season being among his best in that category.
For whatever reason, Tatar simply never managed to gain the trust of the Canadiens' coaching staff throughout his time there, averaging under 17 minutes of ice time in each of his three seasons in Montreal.
Which, in the end, ultimately works out in New Jersey's favor, as they now scoop up one of the best even-strength play drivers in the league for a bargain of a price.
One person's trash is another person's treasure. Tatar was never trash, and now he seems to be in the perfect position to prove just how valuable he really is.