By: Will Burchfield
This is normal, but it’s also notable.
With an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 20, the Red Wings and Tomas Tatar are separated by more than $1 million in their respective briefs.
Players always set the bar high and teams always set it low, but this is a sizable gap. Unless the two sides can come to a compromise in the next two days, the Wings will enter their first true arbitration hearing since 1995 with Ray Sheppard.
Detroit nearly entered arbitration last summer with Petr Mrazek before settling on a last-second deal worth $8 million over two years.
Arbitration is typically an unpleasant process and the Wings will likely do all they can do avoid it with Tatar.
The 26-year-old winger led the team with 25 goals last year and has 75 goals since the 2014-15 season. Only 30 NHL players have scored more in that timeframe.
Then again, Tatar is a maddeningly streaky player. Through the first 31 games last season, he had just four goals. His postseason track record also leaves much to be desired.
The advanced metrics are in Tatar’s favor. He has been a positive possession player throughout the course of his career and was one of the few Red Wings last season to post an even-strength Corsi over 50 percent. It should be noted he starts the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Tyler Johnson, also 26, secured a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Lightning earlier this month. He has averaged .73 points per game over the past three seasons; Tatar has averaged .60.
As a center, Johnson is considered a more valuable asset than Tatar.
If Tatar and the Wings enter arbitration, the result would be a one-year contract as Tatar is one year away from unrestricted free agency.