We've been talking a lot about potential trades over the last few days and have several more of these to go. Using the myriad trade proposals thrown out, fans have effectively crowdsourced their list of tradeable assets: Joakim Andersson could move for a forward or a D-man; Jakub Kindl or Kyle Quincey are the space-making necessary moves for just about any deal; Landon Ferraro gets his chance to shine somewhere else; Tomas Jurco, Calle Jarnkrok, and Teemu Pulkkinen make up the list of blue-chip prospects which would have to bring back a whale of a return; Hell, Darren Helm is as good as gone if we want to start poking the dark recesses of our brains which separate that which makes hockey sense from that which feels like you're euthanizing your dog.
We're forgetting people, aren't we?
Well... not necessarily forgetting so much as intentionally leaving out. We all know that teams with assets to sell want Gustav Nyquist and/or Tomas Tatar and for the most part, the idea of it makes me ill. These two aren't prospects, they're bonafide NHL players who are producing far above their pay grades and have the potential to continue to grow into future All-Star caliber players. Losing that for a guy who doesn't put the team into immediate contention and may never earn his way to (or back to) an All-Star game himself could be disastrous.
If it has to happen and one of them has to go to make an impact move, my vote is for Tomas Tatar and that's solely because I can lie to myself about him and his future.
Don't get me wrong, Tomas Tatar is the one player on the Red Wings' roster right now who moves my pants like a healthy Pavel Datsyuk can. He's an undersized monster who actively seeks contact, wins puck battles, makes jaw-dropping plays with his stick-handling and is generally just a supremely fun player to watch. As I make plans for my next Red Wings jersey purchase, Tatar currently sits atop the leaderboard.
The only difference is that Gustav Nyquist is signed through next year and Tomas Tatar is not. What's more is that Tomas Tatar probably wasn't given his chance to play every night as early as he should have been and every person in the world knows it, including him. As Tats approaches his first ever (restricted) free agency, there's no guarantee that he doesn't look elsewhere.
As far as restricted free agency goes in the NHL, there's really not much danger for bidding wars in the NHL. You'll occasionally see guys get offer sheets, but the general norm is that it's not worth the hassle for a GM to either overpay a guy or do his current team a favor by signing him for them (which is basically what happens when an offer sheet is matched). Granted, Tatar has enough leverage to make the Wings wait on him the way he had to wait on them to play him every night, but he'd likely remain a Red Wing. Unfortunately, there's another danger at play too.
Although there's never been an indication that it's a credible threat, the option to go to the KHL and earn more money than he could as an RFA in North America has to be attractive to the young Slovak. The IIHF (rightfully) doesn't see anything wrong with foreign leagues poaching unsigned RFAs and after the black eye of the Olympics for Russia's top league, they could use all the true Olympic-caliber skill they could find.
I'm hoping this is all just needless worrying and that Tatar finishes a contract extension before the season's out. I hope I get to show up to a game next year wearing his jersey to cheer him on.
All I'm saying is that if that doesn't happen and Tomas Tatar ends up the lynchpin piece in a move for a different player, I'm going to spend the next few weeks convincing myself that all of that stuff above about him potentially wanting out of Detroit was an inevitability that Ken Holland warded off by getting value for him in a trade. I don't even care if it's true. Losing Tatar would hurt.