Tomas Tatar won the tough battle in training camp. He won a roster spot on the over sized, and skilled Detroit Red Wings. Tatar finally earned his promotion from the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Detroit Red Wings this offseason, despite the Detroit roster being overwhelmingly full of veteran skaters.
Tatar skated with the Red Wings for 18 games last season before being moved back to Grand Rapids to make way for other upcoming prospect Gustav Nyquist. Tatar scored four goals and added three assists in his 18 games in the NHL. Tatar won the roster spot over Nyquist in camp, and has been on the NHL roster this season despite not playing.
So Tatar won the roster spot, but head coach Mike Babcock has yet to dress him for a game. The Wings have won both games so far this season, but there are a few players worth demoting for a game or two to let Tatar jump in and try to make a difference. Tatar had a strong preseason and deserves to skate on a regular basis.
One option for Babcock to play Tatar would be to put him in for Mikael Samuelsson who has dressed for both games this season, and has only been on the ice for a total of 18:05. Samuelsson brings a hard shot on the point while on the powerplay, but doesn’t see much time on the ice even for that. Sammy hasn’t played much, and other the goal he scored against Buffalo on Wednesday night, he hasn’t made much of an impact.
Another viable option would be putting Tatar in the lineup for Cory Emmerton. Emmerton also has only logged 18:10 in the first two games. Emmerton is a decent penalty killer, but hasn’t seen much ice time during the penalty kill. He’s a fourth line center, but he had a great game against Buffalo. He assisted on Samuelsson’s goal, and had a shorthanded penalty shot, which was denied by a hot Ryan Miller.
Tatar has proven his ability to play at the NHL level, and despite an over sized Detroit roster, he deserves a chance to play. Babcock mentioned today after the morning skate that Tatar would be in the lineup for the Wings tonight when the play in Boston, but then later said that he would make his final decision this afternoon. Tatar would be an extra offensive weapon for Detroit, who struggled to get much going against Carolina last night despite putting the puck on net 38 times.
Samuelsson isn’t doing much for the Wings but sitting on the bench, so why not make him a healthy scratch and throw Tatar into the lineup? Detroit didn’t get much out of their bottom two lines last night, and need an extra boost. Putting Tatar on the third line along with Joakim Andersson and Dan Cleary or Todd Bertuzzi or even limiting his ice time on the fourth line could add the extra boost Detroit needs to get some added production out of their bottom lines.