Pucking Wings

Hockey is the best.

The Development Of Tomas Tatar

Since the AHL is the highest level of hockey we have right now, it makes sense that we focus our attention there.  There has been a lot of talk recently, both on Twitter and the DOLLAR HOT DOG POWER HOUR, about Tomas Tatar.  You learned all about the story of THE SOUSE earlier, but let’s take a moment and break down his career so far and what I think of him going forward.

Awesome Souse Is Awesome.
Photo Credit: Me, bitches.

Let’s take a look at his stats, courtesy of hockeydb.com:

                                             
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  
--------------------------------------------------------------------
2008-09  Zvolen HKm                  Slova  48    7    8   15   20
2009-10  Grand Rapids Griffins       AHL    58   16   16   32   12  
2010-11  Grand Rapids Griffins       AHL    70   24   33   57   45  
2010-11  Detroit Red Wings           NHL     9    1    0    1    0  
2011-12  Grand Rapids Griffins       AHL    76   24   34   58   45  
2012-13  Grand Rapids Griffins       AHL     4    1    2    3    0
--------------------------------------------------------------------
         NHL Totals                          9    1    0    1    0

Tomas Tatar was drafted in the second round, 60th overall, in the 2009 draft.  The majority of 18 year-old prospects either go back to Juniors or back to their European team.  But this situation was different since Tatar didn’t have a Canadian Junior team (was drafted, but never played, so wasn’t required to play there) or a contract in Europe.  The Wings assigned him to Grand Rapids and he made the team (because he’s awesome).

In his first year with the Griffins, Tatar performed very well, especially for being the youngest player IN THE LEAGUE.  In 58 games, he had 32 points, good for over a half point a game.  He took a brief sabbatical from Grand Rapids to play in the World Juniors for Slovakia.  Tatar himself said he didn’t play well, even though he had 5 points in 6 games despite being a targeted man (because he’s awesome).  I would say that’s a pretty solid season for his age.

Tatar’s second season with the Griffins showed a great improvement in his game.  He had 57 points in 70 games, which was good for .81 points a game.  I went to a couple of Griffins games this season, he did looked like a very solid player.  Sadly, I didn’t take my notebook or blog about these games, so I have nothing concrete to back up my thoughts, but you can trust me.  He was definitely a top 6 forward and pushing to be a number one winger.  Mr. Souse was good enough that he earned a call-up to Detroit for a nine game stretch.  We all know what happened is his first game with Detroit.  Oh, you don’t remember?  Check it out below:

(check out my breakdown of that goal here on OT)

After two years in the minors, I’d say Tatar was definitely developing properly.  Between improving his strength and speed, as well as offensive numbers, Tatar had an outside chance to make the Wings in 2011…in theory.  Unfortunately for Souse, because he was so young when he came into the AHL, he was exempt from waivers for a while, meaning there was almost no chance he would make the team.  And…he didn’t.  Tatar was sent to the Griffins for his third year in the AHL.

As you can see in the numbers above, Tatar’s offensive output remained somewhat similar to the previous year.  His production dipped slightly, but in the couple of games I saw, his speed and strength were drastically improved.  I’ve heard rumors that Tatar had some attitude problems this season, but I don’t know if those are true or not.  In a way, it’s hard to blame him, since Nyquist was called up ahead of him, as well as Brunnstrom (for some reason) getting a spot and Andersson playing in a few games as well.  If Souse had attitude problems, it didn’t show on the ice.  Tatar was one of, if not the, hardest working Griffin on the ice.  He was playing first line and getting time on both the power play and penalty kill.  He did get called up a couple to the Wings a couple of times, but he got royally fucked out of playing in any games.  Would probably cause me temporary attitude problems as well.

As far as this year goes, there’s a fucking lockout and fuck everybody so there’s that.  I was a little worried about Tatar when it came out that he was going to play some games in Slovakia before the AHL season started.  Thankfully, my fears were cut short when he did come back for the start of the Griffins season.  You can see how I thought he played in the first weekend in my write-ups here and here.  Quick summary:  Souse worked his ass off on the top line with Andersson and Nyquist and was probably the best or second best player on the team.  Souse had an awesome game this past weekend against Toronto.  Below are the game highlights, with his goal (sweet, sweet backhand) at around 3:45:

Awesomeness.  That cut through the middle then a perfect backhand in the top corner.  That, my friends, is now babies are made.  It looks like Souse/Andersson/Nyquist have some good chemistry together, which would be even better if Andersson had decent hands more than once in a while.  I’m going to do a bit of rosterbating right now in regards to Souse.  Here…we….go!

I’ve always thought of Tatar as Hudler’s replacement.  He may have not have quite the hands Hudler had, but he brings two things to make up for it: skating ability and effort.  If the Wings were going to keep Datsyuk/Franzen and Zetterberg/Filppula together, I would put Nyquist with Pav/Mule since it worked well last year and Tatar with Hank/Fil.  Tatar would be the “front net” guy and the guy who goes to the corners to dig for pucks.  In this situation, there’s no room for Samuelsson so we send him to Mars because he sucks.

Another awesome line that I want to happen but won’t is Datsyuk centering Tatar and Nyquist.  Think about it – Tatar and Nyquist already have nice chemistry together.  Nyquist and Pav have some good chemistry and I think Tatar would fit right in.  If Nyquist can keep his puck skills up and Pav keeps being Pav, this line could rule.  Then you could have Fil/Hank/Mule on a line, with Samuelsson being in charge of making sure that nobody parks in the dumpster.  Gotta guard that garbage.  All of this might be for nothing since Damien Brunner is tearing it up over in the Swiss league, but hey, a boy can dream, right?  Here would be my lines (which sadly will not happen):

Nyquist-Datsyuk-Franzen

Filppula-Zetterberg-Tatar

Bertuzzi-Helm-Cleary

Miller-Abdelkader-Mursak

Scratches: Tootoo/Emmerton/Eaves (don’t know if he’ll be healthy)

Cut/Traded to Columbus: Samuelsson

I know Tatar has a very small chance of making the Wings because he’s exempt from waivers.  Since Brunner is playing well with Hank right now, they’ll probably have those two playing with Fil.  Samuelsson isn’t actually going to be a healthy scratch (fuck me).  THAT WOULD BE COOL IF WE COULD HAVE A SEASON SOON SO WE COULD ARGUE ABOUT THIS AND I COULD FIND A WAY TO GET RID OF SAMUELSSON.  Fuck balls.

I just hope Tatar takes his game up to another level with the Griffins.  I’m guessing he’ll be the first call up, and he damn well should be.  If he does everything right this year, and isn’t on the opening Wings roster next season, I will be pissed.  Mostly because Souse rules.

And those are my thoughts on Tomas “THE SOUSE” Tatar.  You know the drill if you have any questions/comments/concerns: yell at me on the twitter device (@KevinN37) or feel free to comment here.  I’ll make sure I get back to you and we can have hockey talk!  Until next time…

I want me some Sousey goodness!

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