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Custance on Tomas Tatar’s contract pickle

As noted this morning, Tomas Tatar told CAS.sk that he believes, should he and the Red Wings have to go to salary arbitration, that his one-year contract award would likely be his last deal with the Wings.

The Athletic's Craig Custance sets up something of a conundrum in wondering whether the Wings should in fact trade Tatar because signing him to a long-term deal in the $5-5.5 million range would tie up too much in too few players (see also: Abdelkader, Helm and Nyquist), but before Custance gets to that part of his article, he offers us this from Holland regarding Tatar's comment:

“I don’t have any comment other than I’ve talked to Ritch Winter a number of times,” Holland said. “If that’s the way Tats feels, that’s the way Tats feels.”

The Red Wings and Tatar’s camp were expected to touch base again on Saturday. Detroit is interested in signing Tatar to a long-term contract but not necessarily if it costs north of $6 million per season annually.

It's safe to say that the Red Wings know Tatar’s deal will exceed the $4.75 million per season that Gustav Nyquist received in 2015 when he signed his contract extension. In Tatar, Detroit has a player who averaged 25 goals per season over the last three years in a time when it’s hard to score goals. The Red Wings appreciate that value. To give Tatar’s goal total some perspective, in that three-year span, Tatar (75 goals) has outscored Phil Kessel (74 goals), Johnny Gaudreau (72 goals) and Jordan Eberle (69 goals) among others.

Kessel has a cap hit of $6.8 million, Gaudreau $6.75 million, and Eberle is at $6 million. Goal scoring doesn’t come on the cheap.

Custance continues, and his thought experiment is certainly intriguing.

I'm guessing that the Wings will do what they usually do and find a way to re-sign Tatar to a longer-term contract, long-term cap outlook be damned, but that's just me.

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This is all predicated on Holland “tanking” and being willing to trade.

Thats been the crux for years by the objectors.

If Hollands as good a GM as lauded, absolutely makes sense.

If hes not, make as few moves as possible and hope to keep squeaking out playoff moneys. Which is what I think is the real gameplan.

KH just seems.. exhausted.  Dont exactly feel like hea got a passion for the game like Poile or Yzerman or Shanny or Chiarelli.. Talon.. McPhee.. they all have a similar level of interest in the game.  It comes out in thwir explinations.

Holland is looking more and more antiquated on all fronts, a step behind and playing catch up hockey, which is losing hockey as we all know.

Posted by ThatGuy on 07/08/17 at 07:38 PM ET

SauceBoss's avatar

Chicago gets themselves out of cap hell every single year. It’s not like it’s hard, you just have to make sacrifices. Which is something KH cannot and will not do

Posted by SauceBoss on 07/08/17 at 08:07 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

If Tats goes to arbitration (asking $6M+) and signs for 1 year he should go UFA and get paid what the market is.

Comparing him to Nyquist is KH being Dumb.  He should have traded Nyquist before the NTC kicked in July 1.

Enough is Enough of this fool for a GM!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 07/08/17 at 08:28 PM ET


If you had a sane GM with a long-term vision then you don’t get into these situations. Is it fair to ask why Glendening was extended a full 12 months before it was necessary and then we let Tatar go down to the wire? Had these conversations with Tatar occurred say 6 months ago, and we didn’t think Tatar’s camp had reasonable contract demands, then you aggressively shop him at the draft or as a package with other assets for a young d-man. Or you pony up for Tatar and move Nyquist before his NTC kicked in. But this passive strategy of simply re-signing all of our players and never making a trade leads to a bloated roster. Fully expect Tatar to take Kenny to the cleaners and land himself $5M+...AA gets a minimum raise…and we’ll play LTIR games to get under the cap again.

Posted by fatsavage on 07/08/17 at 08:38 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

Just wow ... all these harsh words for KH and no one remembers that for years Ryan Martin was/is the teams “cap-ologist”.

How much input Ryan Martin had/has none of us know for sure but, blaming this salary mess just on Holland I think is misplaced anger.


Considering how flexible Abby is, is his contract value really too high ??  He can play on any line, play any role, and he adds the physical element on a nightly basis.  Just because he doesn’t score 40 goals a year you think he’s over paid.

We’ve all seen the moves Nyquist has.  It’s my opinion that if we had a more physical team ... more “Abbys” if you will ... there would be more room on the ice for Nyquist to do what he does best.  Unfortunately, Abby (or his equivalence) keeps getting moved off his line and he’s left to fend for himself ... and as we’ve seen with other non-physical “finesse” forwards, he’s doomed to failure.  Nyquist has potential coming out of every orifice possible and its the coaching staff that hasn’t matched him up with the right linemates.  Is he over-paid for what he’s produced the last 2 or 3 years ??  Yes, but if you go on potential he’s a bargain. Unfortunately, potential doesn’t win you a Stanley Cup.

Paying Tats $6 mil. per is a no brainer.  He’s a goal scorer and gets beat to hell doing it.  If Tats walks then shame on management.  Tats will sign elsewhere and give Detroit 2 big middle fingers on his way out of town and they deserve it.

I suppose Mantha and AA and Larkin scoring 30+ goals each this coming season will change our mood and/or attitude about all of this but, for now, Tatar is getting the raw deal.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 07/08/17 at 09:31 PM ET


Sorry pal/ Blaming Ryan Martin is a cop out. Kenny is GM. He’s had Martin under his wing for many years now. If Kenny thinks Martin is ruining our cap then Kenny is the person who can do something about it (ie firing him). No different than blaming everything on Blashill. Kenny hired him. Kenny has the authority to fire him.

As for Abby…in all my years I have never heard one single person suggest that 40 goals was the magic number before we’d celebrate his contract. Not even close to 40. But when you play almost 17 minutes a night, including plenty of PP time…something higher than 2 even-strength goals might be nice. Oh and try to avoid going -20 and taking a bunch of selfish penalties. Then I might feel better about this $30M wasted on a glorified 4th line winger. But with lots of character.

Posted by fatsavage on 07/08/17 at 09:41 PM ET


Trivia question:

What do Steve Ott, Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet, Danny Dekeyser, Luke Glendening, and Drew Miller have in common?

They all scored more even-strength goals than Justin Abdelkader last year. Let that sink in for a minute.

And then we still protected Abby and lost Nosek.

But maybe that was Ryan Martin’s fault too?

Posted by fatsavage on 07/08/17 at 09:48 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

Hi, guy who led a scoring-starved team in goals, we have our money tied up in guys who are -20 and have “heart”. We’ll give you $6mil this year begrudgingly, and trade you for a 5th round pick at the deadline, bkz trades are hard and the entire planet knows you want out of Detroit. Good for Sauce, getting the hell out of Dodge (even if not til March) His bags are packed and sitting by the door. This is going to get a helluva lot worse before it gets any better.

Posted by Steeb on 07/08/17 at 09:52 PM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

Per Custance: 

If Abdelkader and Nyquist weren’t on the books, it would be much easier. You’d lock up Tatar and call it a day.

I love that quote. It really says, with a conscious GM, this is an easy move.

Posted by duhduhduh on 07/08/17 at 09:57 PM ET


I also don’t think this is just about money for Tatar. This guy is competitive and wants to win. But he’s watched…

-Datsyuk leave
-Babcock leave
-guys like Mantha, AA, Mrazek getting called out publicly, scratched, benched, etc…
-UFAs like Stamkos that don’t even pick up the phone
-Kenny handing out brain dead contracts that will hinder us for at least more years
-Kenny not able to add any talent via trade, despite guys like Datsyuk and Larionov clearly noting that this roster is the wrong mix of talent

If he signs a 5-6 year deal then he’s basically wasting his remaining prime years with about a ZERO percent chance to win a Cup. So I would imagine his preference is to get to UFA and get outta here…unless Kenny offers a premium to keep him around. Why take a discount? If I sign here I forfeit any chance to win a Cup so you better pay me.

Posted by fatsavage on 07/08/17 at 11:12 PM ET

DocF's avatar

I have said elsewhere on this board that the Wings should sign Tatar to a contract paying 5 million per year.  That would give Holland an incentive to peddle Nyquist who I see as getting softer each season.

May I also remind those who constantly rag on Abdelkader and, to a lesser extent, Glendening that these guys played with real injuries almost the whole season.  But, of course, they are worthless and overpaid. 

Let us get rid of Nyquist and Helm.  Then we can see if any of the guys in Grand Rapids can actually play at the NHL level.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 07/09/17 at 12:32 AM ET


I have said elsewhere on this board that the Wings should sign Tatar to a contract paying 5 million per year.  That would give Holland an incentive to peddle Nyquist who I see as getting softer each season

Too late. Nyquist has an NTC. Something we knew was coming for years, but still opted to keep him. Now he’s here to stay.

May I also remind those who constantly rag on Abdelkader and, to a lesser extent, Glendening that these guys played with real injuries almost the whole season

Injuries similar to Tatar’s shoulder injury that required surgery and months of rehab?

Posted by fatsavage on 07/09/17 at 12:38 AM ET


——Wings should sign Tatar to a contract paying 5 million per year. 
—- I would not be surprised if Tatar is asking for Kessel, Eberle, type of money.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/09/17 at 11:37 AM ET


Winter is probably asking for 6 and theres probably some leeway there but have conceed on a term if Tatars moving on dollar.

Its called negotiating.

Holland looks like he doesnt like doing it.

Posted by ThatGuy on 07/09/17 at 11:49 AM ET



Stick it to Holland. Go to arbitration, take your one-year deal and go to a team that appreciates hockey talent as much as it appreciates mediocrity that “tries hard”. Good luck getting Helm, Abdelkader, Glendening or Sheahan on his inevitable unearned new contract to replace those goals.

Maybe losing the team’s best goal scorer will get the attention of ownership.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 07/09/17 at 12:57 PM ET


Would be nice if KH was that tough when he negotiated Abby, Helm and E deals.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/09/17 at 05:33 PM ET


——He can play on any line, play any role, and he adds the physical element on a nightly basis. 
——Yes, it would be nice to have the player you are describing….

Posted by VPalmer on 07/09/17 at 05:35 PM ET


He can play on any line, play any role, and he adds the physical element on a nightly basis. 
——Yes, it would be nice to have the player you are describing….

Posted by VPalmer on 07/09/17 at 05:35 PM ET

Haha. No kidding. I will repeat…Abby played almost 17 minutes a night last season and scored 2 even-strength goals. TWO! Fewer than Ott, Miller, Glendening, Jensen, Ouellet. It’s pathetic. Everyone rags on Sheahan, but Abby was just as awful. As for all the other things Abby does…umm, I don’t see it. He was -20, among the worst on the team. Most of his penalties were selfish and lazy ones. He’d be a 4th liner on virtually any true contender. But Kenny gave him a $30M contract. Great evaluation of talent there Ken!

Posted by fatsavage on 07/09/17 at 09:32 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.