The Detroit Red Wings and forward Tomas Tatar are far apart in contract talks and look to be heading to the arbitration table on Thursday.
It’s not for lack of trying, as the club has reached out to Tatar with a five-year deal to the tune of $25 million. The player rejected the offer.
According to reports, Tatar is looking for a six to seven-year contract worth about $6 million annually. That’s an upgrade for his $2.75 million salary over the past three years.
Tatar clearly believes he’s worth it, as he’s coming off his third straight 20-goal season.
He’s also gone on record against the concept of a one-year deal, saying that he’d look elsewhere if the Red Wings tabled such an offer. If the case goes to arbitration, a one-year offer will likely be the outcome and that means 2016-2017 will likely be Tatar’s last in Motown.
“Arbitration is the last option, I have to sign off, it’s just a mandatory contract,” he said. “Unless I agree with Detroit, I’ll go to the court [salary arbitration], where they’ll give me a year’s contract. That would probably be my last season in Detroit. We’ll see in a few days or weeks before it all comes together.”
Objectively, there’s a strong case to be made for Tatar’s demands. At the very least, he should be getting Tyler Johnson money. The Tampa Bay forward netted seven years at $5 million a year and that may satisfy Tatar in terms of term.
Plus, Tatar’s actually scored more than Johnson over the past three seasons.
Detroit does have something on its side, too. Timing.
Tatar’s goal-scoring has come at what could be argued as inopportune times. He’s exploded offensively with the Red Wings out of the playoff picture, scoring 13 of his goals in 2016-2017 in the last 25 games of the season. That’s a little late for a meaningful surge.
That may be thin ice for arbitration and the argument could be made that Detroit requires the services of Tomas Tatar, which puts us right back where we started and sends the forward to unrestricted free agency next summer. And that means Ken Holland and the Red Wings will have to trade him lest they risk losing him for nothing.
That suggests that Tatar has timing on his side, too.