Multiple times this offseason, Devils’ General Manager Tom Fitzgerald reiterated his desire to go out and acquire a top 6 forward for the team.
On Thursday, August 5th, Fitzgerald became a man of his word and signed left-winger Tomas Tatar to a two-year deal worth $9 million.
Tatar, 30, has produced at more than half-point per game pace over his 10-year career and is just a year removed from a career-high 61 points in only 68 games when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens. In his 61-point campaign, he finished ahead of guys like Mathew Barzal, John Tavares, and Sean Couturier.
And while Tatar may only have finished with one or two more points than the three all-stars, it goes to show how big of addition the all-star caliber veteran is to a young Devils team that struggles to score goals.
Not to mention, before choosing to take his talents to New Jersey, Tatar was engaged with six teams and cited that centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes were the deciding factors on him coming to the Garden State. In last week’s article, I discussed how New Jersey isn’t known for being able to attract big free agents; yet this offseason, they were able to lure the biggest fish in the pond [Dougie Hamilton] to New Jersey and were able to edge out six other teams to sign Tatar. The signings of Hamilton and Tatar mean one of two things, either the league is starting to take notice that the Devils are going to be a force to be reckoned with very soon, or and the much more depressing option being that the Devils have a ton of money to offer so why not take it.
On the same day of signing Tatar, the Devils managed to resign their stud rookie, Yegor Sharangovich. Sharangovich, the most underrated rookie around the league, finished 10th in the Calder Trophy [rookie of the year] voting after an impressive 30-point campaign by the 23-year-old. After kicking his NHL career off with a bang by scoring his first NHL goal with 1 second left in overtime against the Bruins, Sharangovich dealt with some ups and downs before being put on a line with Travis Zajac and his fellow rookie Janne Kuokkanen.
Sharangovich had shown flashes early thanks to a wicked wrist shot but struggled to find consistency in his game, which resulted in him being a healthy scratch before he found his way when partnered up with Zajac. Soon after, he earned a promotion to play with Hughes, and the kids were without a doubt the Devils’ best line. At one point, over an 11-game stretch, Sharangovich scored 7 seven goals, helping him get to 16, which was 4th best among rookies.
Getting back one of their most promising young players in Sharangovich was another excellent move in a long list of excellent moves this offseason by the Devils and General Manager Tom Fitzgerald.
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