BREAKING NEWS: Devils sign winger Tomas due to………..

Tom Fitzgerald stayed active during the first day of free agency, bolstering the New Jersey Devils’ roster to be more formidable. However, it wasn’t a flawless start, as he couldn’t secure a high-profile addition for their top nine. With limited options available, Fitzgerald opted for a different approach, signing Tomas Tatar instead.

Tatar, a seasoned NHL veteran with 13 seasons under his belt across Detroit, Vegas, Montreal, and most recently New Jersey, signed a two-year contract with the Devils ahead of the 2021-22 season. While his first year with the team was underwhelming, Tatar bounced back in his second season, registering 20 goals and 28 assists in all 82 games played. He even garnered consideration for the Selke Trophy.

Upon the expiration of his contract, the Devils chose a new direction, leading Tatar to join the Colorado Avalanche on a one-year deal. His stint in Colorado was brief and unremarkable, prompting a midseason trade to the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Tatar found better form in Seattle, tallying 15 points in 43 games, but his overall production for the season was disappointing with a combined 9 goals and 15 assists.

This signing presents intriguing possibilities. Tatar has demonstrated chemistry with Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer, with whom he formed a productive line during the 2022-23 season, boasting impressive possession metrics. Reuniting this trio could fortify the Devils’ lineup without sacrificing offensive output, provided Tatar maintains his performance standards.

However, there are inherent risks. Tatar is entering his age 34 season and is coming off a subpar year. His playoff track record also raises concerns, having accrued just 13 points in 52 postseason appearances. Nevertheless, the Devils mitigated risk with a one-year contract, offering flexibility to adjust if needed by trading, waiving, or adjusting his role within the team.

While Tatar doesn’t add physicality or size, attributes the Devils have addressed elsewhere, his signing reflects a calculated gamble on potential resurgence. Despite concerns over his salary cap hit of $1.8 million, Fitzgerald’s decision seems justified given Tatar’s recent market value and the team’s remaining cap space. This move also suggests a likely bridge deal for Dawson Mercer, while potentially stabilizing the Devils’ forward lines for the upcoming season.

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