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Tatar progresses despite production plateau

Published Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 11:11 p.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Tomas Tatar

Tomas Tatar (Credit: Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins)

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 Almquist, 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.


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
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 52 2 15 17 32 -5 96
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 44 5 22 27 16 -6 79
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 58 19 35 54 65 +11 181
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 51 14 21 35 19 +7 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 68 10 34 44 77 -36 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 54 25 39 64 47 0 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 55 18 27 45 51 +15 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 60 28 35 63 21 -19 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 47 30 38 68 37 +45 183
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 29 3 2 5 27 -3 57
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
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 30 6 4 10 30 -4 50
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 35 3 7 10 27 +12 66
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 35 9 15 24 24 +1 113
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 52 16 20 36 14 +1 222
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 42 3 8 11 26 +16 66
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 36 9 11 20 59 -7 79
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 50 16 23 39 22 -3 109
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 42 1 7 8 14 +7 60
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 6 0 0 0 2 -4 3
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR-JR MHL 5 2 4 6 10 +2 7


Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 47 28 12 6 3 2.81 .917
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
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 15 6 6 2 0 2.62 .909
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 2 1 1 0 0 4.05 .879


Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 5 0 0 0 4 -1 8
  1. Scott says:

    Ok I will apologize for saying he might be sulking (Tatar). I don’t get to see Grand Rapids play that much so I made an assumption. I just figured between his numbers dropping and not getting that many call ups that he was having issues. I am however glad to hear that I am wrong.

  2. yvr says:

    I, for one, think that Tatar has not progressed much in his 3rd year of AHL play; he seems to be the same player as when he was 18 yrs old. But also, I have only seen him play live 2 times in Abbotsford so hard to make an accurate judgement.

    Interesting poll done by (yes polls are what they are, to be consumed at your own pleasure. They rate junior hockey and AHL prospects—no college or Europe. Here is how the Wings prospects turned out:

    Mrazek- 37th best player O/A and 3rd best goalie in OHL.
    Sproul- 48th best O/A and 5th best d-man in OHL.
    Jurco- 3rd best O/A and 2nd best RW in Q.
    Ouellet- 42 best O/A and 8th best d-man in the Q.
    Tvrdon- 44th best O/A and 11th best LW in WHL.
    Nyquist- 17th best O/A and 4th best LW in AHL.
    Smith- 38th best O/A and 5th best d-man in the AHL.

  3. WingsFan1976 says:

    Very surprised that Jurco and Mrazek are not in the top 75 based on their play in the world juniors and on their current teams.

  4. Griff21 says:

    Tatar has become a much more complete player in his 3rd year. He is doing everything VERY well on the ice. The last couple of years he was very good with the puck and scoring, this year he is playing Very well without the puck, setting other people up and the strongest part is the way his overall Skating/Checking and being Strong on his skates. Now he goes into the corner and comes out with the puck 95% of the time, even when the guys are much bigger than him.
    He is also not backing down from the rough stuff, not that he is fighting (not his job) but he sticking is nose in there and scrumming it up, he is a strong little dude. He is also skating on a line with Jammie Johnson & Chris Minard and that has been working very well and they are teaching him a lot.
    Fraser is also using him on PK & PP, so all around just a great player.(Like Hudler just stronger and more a complete player)

  5. NHLrick says:

    What is going to happen with Sheahan I wonder. Time to go pro and hope a change of system/scenery spark his offense? Or does he return to Notre Dame for his senior year? Still not thrilled with his Selection in the first round. He really hasn’t done anything on the scoresheet in 3 seasons at the college level.

  6. Rzombo says:

    Yeah, Sheahan needs to get the hell out of South Bend. I don’t know if it is the cause of his offensive woes, but I don’t see any value in staying there another year. Hopefully Notre Dame drops a couple this weekend and we see him in GR the following week.

  7. ScubaSteve says:

    @YVR, do you have a link to that poll? Interested in the full rankings.

  8. yvr says:

    @scubasteve…read it a few days ago on but be damned if I can find the story again….not in archive, and have been thru all the links but no luck…sry

  9. Jack says:

    Anyone know if Brunnstrom is a dud or if they are just allowing him to learn the system & develop defensively before giving him a crack next year?

  10. ScubaSteve says:

    I’m pretty sure he’s just a dud. I was never that impressed with his play that I believed he deserved to be on the Wings over other players unlike a lot of others. He’s also 27 so he’s most likely not going to improve his play like the teams prospects that are already equally as good as him if not better.

  11. Chun says:

    Do you know what you’re talking about, Steve? Brunnstrom was a recipient of a major amount of poor luck during his time with the Red Wings and despite being majorly snakebitten, has still managed 28 points in 35 games for Grand Rapids. He’s a poor man’s Jiri Hudler, Drew Miller-esque, even, if he can maintain his level of play in the NHL assuming he were to get the chance. A good kind of player to have on the third line.

  12. ScubaSteve says:

    That’s why he played in the AHL all of last season because he couldn’t even crack the Stars or Leafs roster. He’s never going to come close to maintaining his current production in the AHL in the NHL. If he were the player you think he is wouldn’t a team have picked him up of waivers since he’s a good kind of player to have on the third line? But really 28 points in 35 AHL games for a 27 year old? In that case he must be an NHL caliber player, just like Darren Haydar and Jason Krog

  13. Jack says:

    Sad … I was hoping he’d get some third line/powerplay time next year. Oh well, maybe a free agent signing? Then again with the way things have been going …

  14. m says:

    I want to see Tatar and Conner get some more time in Detroit, I think they’ve earned it.

    Brunnstrom is a strange case. He obviously can play when he needs a job since he earned a contract out of camp (which isn’t easy to do with Detroit), but doesn’t seem to have any desire to carry it over to the next level. Quick Launch

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