The numbers might not reflect it, but Tomas Tatar’s development continues on an upward trend in the American Hockey League.
Tatar, who is in his third full year with the Grand Rapids Griffins despite the fact he was only 20 when the season started, is third in team scoring with 39 points in 56 games — a very slight dip from his scoring pace last season — but his play without the puck has come a long way.
“He’s been terrific for us,” said Griffins head coach Curt Fraser. “He’s really taken a big role penalty-killing this year and he’s done an excellent job learning how to block shots, how to be better defensively, all these little things. He’s a really good offensive player, but he’s rounded out his game more.”
Tatar was drafted out of the Slovak ExtraLiga in the second round (60th overall) in 2009, drawing comparisons from the Red Wings to dynamic former NHLers Martin Straka and Zigmund Palffy. He turned pro immediately and had 32 points as an AHL rookie in 2009-10 and 57 as a sophomore last season.
This season, he has 14 goals on a team-high 163 shots along with 25 assists and a plus-6 rating.
The five-foot-10, 176-pound winger also has been working with power-skating coach Kim Muir in an effort to improve his skating stride and speed, something that — combined with his improved two-way awareness — could make a big difference in his bid for a roster spot at training camp next season.
“Tomas Tatar took this on himself,” Fraser said of working with Muir. “Hopefully by the end of the season, if he gets half a step quicker and stronger on his feet, then he’ll reap the rewards for next year.”
Tatar, part of the same draft class that produced Landon Ferraro, Mitchell Callahan, Nick Jensen and Adam Almqvist, still projects as a top-six forward. But playing a more complete game will help endear him to Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and make it easier for him to gradually work his way up the lineup.
“Tommy Tatar is more of a top two-line player, so is Gus (Gustav Nyquist), but saying that, it’s important they develop their (defensive game) here so they can be used in (fourth-line) situations,” Fraser said. “But a couple of years from now? You could see Gus and Tatar up on those top two lines doing some good things offensively for the Wings.”
NOTES: Forward Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, SEL) returned this week to finish the season with 39 points in 50 games, tied for 14th in the league … After averaging a point-per-game through 20 contests, center Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame, NCAA) has fallen into another horrible offensive slump with just two goals and one assist in his past 15 games … Four Red Wings draft picks cracked a ranking of the top 75 prospects in the world according to The Hockey News Future Watch: defenseman Brendan Smith (16), Jarnkrok (32), Nyquist (34) and Tatar (57). Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Petr Mrazek notably missed the cut.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||45||9||9||18||17||-3||104|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||44||6||9||15||34||-6||64|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||52||19||35||54||16||+5||143|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||56||14||25||39||35||+6||163|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||53||16||19||35||22||+4||109|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||42||5||8||13||19||-3||68|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||41||5||3||8||83||-2||52|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||21||0||3||3||17||+5||22|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||56||7||6||13||29||-10||83|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||55||10||20||30||14||-9||127|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||40||2||6||8||21||+1||65|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||46||7||6||13||24||-1||71|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||47||10||22||32||74||+7||99|
|Pyett, Logan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||53||2||19||21||44||-1||124|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||11||2||1||3||2||-1||17|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||6||1||1||2||8||-1||3|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||JR||WHL||68||10||34||44||77||-36||N/A|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||JR||OHL||55||18||27||45||51||+15||N/A|
|Jurco, Tomas||Saint John||JR||QMJHL||47||30||38||68||37||+45||183|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||COL||NCAA||36||6||24||30||2||+11||67|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||COL||NCAA||27||3||6||9||32||-2||41|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||COL||NCAA||35||9||15||24||24||+1||113|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||6||0||0||0||2||-4||3|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR-JR||MHL||5||2||4||6||10||+2||7|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||17||3||7||1||1||3.53||.874|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||15||6||8||0||0||3.59||.883|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||5||0||0||0||4||-1||8|