With the NHL trade deadline getting close (February 24, 3 p.m. ET) the Pro Hockey Talk crew will be taking a closer look at some individual players that could be on the move. Today we focus on Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar.
Player: Tomas Tatar
Current Team: Montreal Canadiens
Contract: One year remaining after this season with a $5.3 million salary cap number.
Why the Canadiens might trade him. If you squint really hard and give it your best effort you can maybe find a decent argument for why it makes sense for the Canadiens to keep Tatar.
He is an excellent player, and a very underrated one. He is signed through the end of next season and is not in danger of leaving as a free agent after this season. He has also been a great fit in Montreal since joining the team at the start of the 2018-19 season after coming over from Vegas in the Max Pacioretty trade. There is also the fact that the Canadiens might still believe they could be a playoff team next season, so it would make sense to keep your good players.
But all of that kind of goes out the window when you look at the current situation and the harsh reality that this team just is not very good.
The Canadiens are on track to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. They are completely going down the tube this season with five consecutive losses, including a dreadful 4-3 loss to Detroit on Tuesday where they blew a 3-1 lead to go 0-4 for the season against a team that currently has just 15 wins for the season and might be single the worst NHL team of the modern era. On top of that, the Canadiens are going to have a ton of contractual decisions to make over the next two seasons regarding Max Domi, Brendan Gallagher, Philip Danualt, and Jeff Petry.
And given the current situation, why would they keep everyone?
There is also the fact that the price for players with term remaining on their contracts is sky high right now. Pounce while you can.
What he provides. Whether it is traditional box score numbers or a more analytical look, Tatar stacks up extremely well with other top-line two-way wingers around the league. He is on track for a career year offensively this season (close to 30 goals, more than 70 points) and in a normal year is still going to give you 25 goals and 50 points.
His possession numbers have always been strong no matter what team he has played for, and this year they have reached an elite level.
Maybe you have a sour memory of him as a trade deadline acquisition after what happened with him Vegas two years ago, but small sample size decisions lead to mistakes. He is a good player and could be a great addition for a contender.
The Colorado Avalanche would be an intriguing option because they have the salary cap space to take him on and could be in the market for a winger with Mikko Rantanen sidelined (and just to give themselves a better chance to win).
Worth noting that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is in Denver on Wednesday night to watch the Avalanche-Islanders game in person.
Predicted Destination. A team like the Avalanche has a lot to offer and the flexibility to do it, but I have a suspicion that Bergevin is going to set an extremely high price, not get the offer he wants, and stand pat with the belief this team is closer to contending than it actually is.