Maybe not the most ideal time to write a post about Tomas Tatar's quest to make the Red Wings roster since there's an NHL lockout, but you need some questions in life to be debated, regardless of the situation, right?
Tatar made a fine impression in his first opportunity with the Wings when he scored the game-tying goal against the New York Islanders on December 30th, 2011. His NHL debut and he scores his first goal of his career to tie a game and force it into overtime; pretty impressive indeed. The next eight games he didn't really establish any sort of effect, showing how his speed and physical strength might not be ready to match up against the big boys. Are the Red Wings simply too harsh on the kid in terms of expectations or do they just plan to "overripe" him like they've done with other prospects in the past?
When Tatar was drafted 60th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, many were completely aware that his offensive skill was certainly full of potential. He came into his first professional training camp with the right mindset and turned the heads of Red Wings management that they had no choice, but to send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins. His first NHL training camp and he already makes Detroit's affiliate, leaving the Slovak Extraliga behind.
Up to the date of December 9th, he's tallied 167 points in 226 AHL games. Not bad at all for a hockey player who played the majority of his career in a continent that doesn't focus on physicality. What remains to be answered is if he'll ever manage to translate his superb skill in the American Hockey League to the National Hockey League. From what we've seen of him, he has yet to discover the aggressive aspect that is constantly found in professional hockey players. There's no doubt that Tatar stands out as an elite player who's capable of finding the back of net and being clutch in key moments of hockey games; however, he performs these abilities in a different league.
As a Red Wings fan, one can only hope that all this time spent in the minors for Tatar will enable him to tend to the areas he needs to address. There's been many situations where hockey players have thrived while having a good chunk of their career in the AHL, such as Corey Perry, Martin St. Louis and Zdeno Chara. Of course, even plenty of Red Wings have gained experience to help pursue their NHL careers like Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard. (Do not insert Jiri Hudler joke here.)
It's evident by many hockey fans that the AHL is completely distinguished from the NHL. What truly must be questioned is if Tomas Tatar will one day be able to tell the difference between the two leagues because as of this moment, he still has lots to improve.