Montreal Canadiens Struck Gold Acquiring Tomas Tatar

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SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 28: Teammates congratulate Tomas Tatar #90 of the Montreal Canadiens after he scored a first period goal against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on December 28, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

When the Montreal Canadiens traded former captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar and a second round pick, many fans believed Tatar was just a throw-in. Suzuki was the main piece of the puzzle. While the latter is still the case, as Suzuki is a superstar in the making, Tatar is proving to be much more to the Canadiens than a mere throw-in. Actually, the 28-year-old is on pace to have the best season of his career.

Canadiens Struck Gold Acquiring Tomas Tatar

Tomas Tatar joined the Golden Knights at last year’s trade deadline and Vegas paid a hefty price to acquire the skilled forward. Vegas traded a first, second and third round pick to the Detroit Red Wings to acquire his services as they tried to bolster their scoring heading into the playoffs. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned for Vegas and Tatar. Tatar scored just six points in the final 20 regular season games for Vegas. He also only registered two points in eight playoff games and found himself a healthy scratch for 12 of Vegas’ 20 playoff games last season.

Now with the Canadiens and playing in front of one of the most electrifying crowds in sports, Tatar has a new fire burning inside him. He’s out to prove that he is still capable of being the 20 plus goal scorer that he has consistently been throughout his career. He was ready to jump into a top-six role with the Canadiens and help turn the team around. He’s done just that.

Tatar Providing Offence for the Canadiens

Tatar currently has scored 14 goals and added 16 assists for 30 points in 39 games this season. His 30 points are just four shy of his total for all last season. Those stats have him on pace to tie his career best in goals with 29 and finish the year with a career-best 63 points. Not bad for a “throw in.” He’s also outscoring Max Pacioretty, the player he was traded for.

Tatar found instant chemistry with linemates Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher. In terms of production, the trio is actually one of the top five lines in the NHL so far this season according to leftwinglock.com. That type of production is what has taken the Canadiens out of the basement in terms of goals for. The team finished third last in the entire NHL last season and now currently sits tied for 10th this season. This production also has the Canadiens currently sitting in the final wild-card position for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Cap-friendly Contract

Not only did general manager Marc Bergevin acquire a player who is currently producing at a better rate than the player he traded, but he also comes at a much friendlier cap hit. Tomas Tatar is set to make $4.8 million per year for the next two years after this season while Max Pacioretty signed a four-year $28 million contract extension with Vegas on September 10th. That’s an average annual value of $7 million. Bergevin saved $2.2 million per season at least by acquiring Tatar. Had Pacioretty signed in Montreal, the number would have been much higher due to the tax difference in Canada.

The cap savings added to the production of Tatar over Pacioretty, along with the fact that Tatar is two years younger is a huge win for the Bergevin and the Canadiens.

Enjoying His Time in Montreal

Tatar is really enjoying his time in Montreal so far. I mean, how could he not. When the team is winning, as they are now, there is no better place to play than Montreal. The fanbase bleeds bleu blanc et rouge and Tomas Tatar is becoming a fan favourite. Just ask this fan who even came up with a new pronunciation for Tatar’s name.

In an article by Montreal Gazette writer Stu Cowan, Tatar says;

“I think we’re feeling a lot of support from the fans this season. I think we’re trying to work hard for them on the ice and they really appreciate it. They stand behind us. They’ve been loud every time we’ve played at home and we can feel the support.”

“In Canada, hockey is the No. 1 sport and you see it through the media and through the outside when you walk around the city. There’s a lot of fans out there who watch hockey and want to talk about hockey. Personally, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve got to experience the city a lot lately. The restaurants and food are great. The city is beautiful. The winter is pretty tough, but I’m kind of used to it so it’s not such a big deal to me. I was really surprised at first how beautiful Montreal is. I’ve never really experienced it before. So I’m enjoying my time here, for sure.”

Well, Tomas, the feeling is mutual. The Montreal fans are certainly enjoying having you here as well.

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