After seeing Tomas Tatar’s performance at the WJC’s, particularly his dog-like nose for the net, the smirk that all of the winged faithful get when they get a glimpse of a future lamp-lighter crept across my face. “A Hudler with better footspeed? How fantastic.” Then, I got a glimpse of Tatar’s “Ovie-esque” goal celebration. It’s clear we have a hotdog on our hands. Ok, that might be a good thing if not for the team, but certainly for the fans. Tatar’s chances to make the squad this year might be slim. Another year of seasoning in Grand Rapids could be just what he needs. But with a team that has been losing by 1 goal instead of winning by 1 goal in the post-season, adding a feisty skater with an itchy trigger finger could be just what Detroit needs.
Now of course, I do not expect to Tatar come in and have an immediate impact, even if he makes the team. That seldom happens with players of this type. As impressive as 24 goals and 33 assists in the AHL may seem, that obviously does not mean those numbers will translate into the big show. Just remember Ville Leino and the disappointment he brought after showing promise in other professional leagues. Having said all this, there are those who feel Tatar is the most exciting forward that the Red Wings have had in their system since Henrik Zetterberg. Now that is a bold statement. Zetterberg was regarded as the best player in the world outside the NHL before he donned the winged wheel. As far as I know, and I know a bit, Tatar has not been touted in nearly the same way.
Mike Babcock said once that Hudler could become “a scoring machine” in the NHL, if he was willing and able to make the right adjustments. Huds was well on his way to become such a machine, before he took his ill-advised vacation in Russia for a season. How delightful it would be to have two players in the mold of a sneaky sniper, who knows how to bury his chances. Let’s hope to see a return to form for Hudler, and an emergence of another player with comparable skill in Tatar.