Colorado Avalanche forward Tomáš Tatar lingered in free agency peril for most of the summer before he finally signed a one-year deal with the team for $1.5MM. However, he recently told the Boris a Brambor Podcast that the New Jersey Devils had offered him a one-year contract earlier in the offseason.
When discussing the one-year offer from the Devils, Tatar said he wanted more term from the Devils when they made their offer, but only realized later in free agency that a multi-year deal wasn’t possible. By the time he’d changed his mind, the Devils had already acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Calgary Flames, making his return to New Jersey improbable.
Given Tatar’s timeline of events, it seems likely the Devils made their offer prior to June 27th when Toffoli was dealt to New Jersey. It’s hard to fault Tatar for thinking he could get a multi-year deal as he was coming off a good season in which he scored 20 goals and 28 assists in 82 games. His run-in free agency was one of the more puzzling things that happened this summer in hockey as he didn’t come close to getting the contract that many pundits predicted he would. The Athletic had Tatar projected to receive a three-year contract with an average annual value of $3.9MM but the flat cap and an underwhelming playoff hurt his earning potential.
Tatar’s situation is not unlike that of Evan Rodrigues last summer, he also signed with Colorado on a one-year deal after lingering in free agency for quite a while. Rodrigues signed a four-year $12MM contract this year with the Florida Panthers, something that Tatar could mimic next summer if he has another good year.
Free agency is often a guessing game, and it is sometimes hard to project who will take a one-year deal and who can get term. Many people were blindsided by which players received term on their new deals (Ryan Reaves) and which players took one-year deals (Jason Zucker). But with the flat cap, free agency has become harder than ever as evidenced by a useful middle six forward like Tatar going more than two months unsigned.