Saturday, August 24, 2019

Tomas Tatar Jersey Card

Initially thought of as a throw-in in the Max Pacioretty trade (where the Montréal Canadiens also grabbed top prospect Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-rounder - Samuel Fagemo - from the Vegas Golden Knights), Tomas Tatar outplayed the former Habs captain - on a far weaker team - in almost every statistical category, from the standard goals (25 vs 22), assists (33 vs 18), points (58 vs 40), +/- (+21 on a team that failed to make the playoffs vs -13 on a team that had gone to the Stanley Cup Final the previous season), Corsi For (59.6 vs 53.5) and Corsi For Relative (7.9 to -1.9).

And to anyone wanting to make the assessment that Pacioretty missed many games to injury, the points-per-game ratio is still very uneven at 0.73 vs 0.61 in favour of the Slovak.

They are very different players. Tatar is reserved, quiet, as most smart two-way forwards are, while Pacioretty has been nurtured like a superstar for his entire career. Over the years, Pacioretty has both become more selfish (oftentimes spending an entire penalty kill in centre ice waiting for a breakaway pass instead of helping out defensively, when he used to be very good in his own zone in the past) and shown an inability to withstand pressure - such as the captaincy and playoff expectations in Montréal), so signing a huge contract as soon as he got to Vegas was bound to choke him up.

The advantage of that came in the postseason: paired with elite two-way players like Paul Stastny and Mark Stone, his trio was seen as the "second line" behind that of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson, which eased their workload and expectations. They were able to take advantage of weaker competition and dominate the San Jose Sharks, who had to cheat their way into a series win.

Tatar is more consistent, like a left wing version of Tomas Plekanec. Except for one exceptioonally poor season in 2017-18, he'll get you at least 45 points, sometimes up to 55-60, and score 20-25 goals. He won't make many mistakes eitehr in the offensive zone or defensively, but he'll be so methodological it'll almost be boring. His goals will come via bulk - his shot % is usually along the lines of last season's 12.5% - and will rarely be "sniper"-type shots.

But boring and effective has been Montréal's motto since they failed to land Vincent Lecavalier in 2008, so it's a perfect match.

Here he is wearing another classic Original Six uniform, that of the Detroit Red Wings, on card #67 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 SP Game-Used Edition set:
While he's shown wearing Detroit's white (now-away) uniform, the game-worn jersey swatch may very well be from the red (home) jersey, although no one really knows for sure.

So far in his career, Tatar has won the Calder Cup in the AHL as well as two silver medals, one at the 2012 World Championships, representing Team Slovakia, and another at the 2016 World Cup, with Team Europe.

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