DETROIT - Tomas Tatar is a restricted free agent who has filed for arbitration.
What that means:
He will have a hearing with the Detroit Red Wings sometime between July 20 and Aug. 4 during which both sides will argue for what kind of salary Tatar should have heading into the 2017-18 season. Contract negotiations can continue leading up to the hearing.
Of course, the hearing can be avoided if the two parties reach a deal beforehand.
Tatar, 26, led the Red Wings in goals this past season with 25 in 82 games played. He's scored at least 20 goals in the past three seasons -- he scored 29 goals in 2014-15. Wingers who score like this are making at least $3 million a year in the NHL. Tatar likely will be seeking a long-term contract worth between $3-$5 million a season.
Right now he's reportedly recovering from offseason surgery on his shoulder. It's unclear if he will be ready for the season opener in October.
Does Tatar get long or short-term deal?
The real question here isn't whether the Red Wings will sign him. Instead, it's whether the Red Wings will sign him to a long-term or short-term deal. Detroit could choose to sign Tatar to a one-year deal in anticipation of trading him at the deadline. What they get in exchange would be contingent on his performance, but hopefully for everyone's sake he would be seen as a goal-scoring asset to any team.
So, is Tatar worth keeping around Detroit, a team with a list of young forwards? He led the Red Wings, who have been near the bottom of the league in scoring, in goals this past season. He's still just 26, which means his best years might be the next five or so.
General manager Ken Holland must decide. Keep in mind the Red Wings have to prepare for other forwards' contracts next season, such as Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.
Athanasiou still needs contract
The Red Wings also have to hash out a deal with restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou. At 22 years old, he is one of the most promising players on the Red Wings roster. His blazing speed and scoring ability likely have landed him a top-six spot on more than a few NHL teams.
The Red Wings would be foolish to get rid of him. Athanasiou is in a position to sign what they call a two-year bridge contract before he makes "real" money.
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