Tomas Tatar could earn an extra time

Coming into training camp, Tomas Tatar was barely able to make the New Jersey Devils roster for opening night. It sounds absurd. A $4.5 million player doesn’t have to fight for his place on the team, but this team is different. Andreas Johnsson and his $3.4 million cap hit currently play for the Utica Comets. That’s because Tatar made it clear in the training camp that he’s the better player and cemented his place in this squad.

Tatar has been playing his way up the line-up since opening night’s list. He started in the third row who got minutes of the fourth row. He hit rock bottom when he played under 12 minutes in the Devils’ first win of the season against the Anaheim Ducks. He eventually found his way into more fertile parts of the roster and is now in one of the most dominant ranks in hockey.

Tatar was an offensive force along with Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier. 15 points in 23 games isn’t exactly a leader, but considering he had zero points in his first five games it shows how well he’s doing in this run.

Hischier has developed into one of the best players in the league with Tatar at his side. Bratt switched lines between the Jack Hughes line and the Hischier line, but Tatar has remained consistent. Hischier and Tatar are just as good on the ice with Bratt as they are with rookie Fabian Zetterlund, and that’s saying something.

We saw on Monday night just how effective Tatar can be. The Rangers defeated the Devils in the first Hudson River Rivalry matchup of the season. Rangers fans at Madison Square Garden rocked after Mika Zibanejad scored to make it 2-0 after less than four minutes. Just three minutes later, Jesper Bratt blasted a pass to Tatar, who used his skate to catch the puck and backhand it past Igor Shesterkin.

Tatar came into play this year, playing for a new contract. He’s 31 years old, so the thought of making money again must intrigue him. He won’t get a monster contract. Tatar does not have enough consistent figures to justify this. However, he has earned it some.

It’s a tough decision for the Devils. They’re not trying to settle on a long contract with an aging veteran, especially one with a Tatar track record. He’s playing really well right now. We don’t think anyone would turn a blind eye if the Devils gave him a two-year extension. That fits with the timeline the Devils want to be on with these veterans. The problem is that Tatar probably doesn’t want to be there. If he can earn a four or even six year contract, the devils are letting him get it elsewhere.