TRAVERSE CITY — Wings general manager Ken Holland gave Tomas Tatar the vote of confidence he was looking for.
“Tats is going to be on the team,” Holland said. “It’s an important preseason for a guy like Tats because there’s a lot of depth. We’ve got decisions to make, but he’ll probably be one of the guys that’s one of the 14 left standing because he’s young, there’s upside potential. I like Tats. He plays hard and he goes to the hard areas. He wants the puck, he wants to score.”
Tatar, 22, is one of 17 forwards trying to earn a spot out of camp. Detroit plans to carry 14 forwards on its roster.
Tatar was named the American Hockey League playoff MVP after scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games to lead Grand Rapids to the Calder Cup.
“I think he’s been very good in training camp,” Holland said. “He played 18 games for us last year and scored four goals. That’s a 16-18 goal pace playing on the third line and not getting much specialty team. That’s a lot of goals.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock also felt Tatar had a good camp.
“I don’t think he has a chip on his shoulder, I just think he can count,” Babcock said. “I thought he’s been really good every single day, but to me that’s not a chip. He can do the math. He wants to play and I don’t blame him.”
Tatar is also out of minor league options which means the Wings would have to expose him to waivers where he more than likely claimed by any NHL team.
“I would expect to be traded if I won’t make the team,” Tatar said. “I’m going to do my best to be here, but it’s a business. You never know. They might get some offer and have to accept it. They have so many forwards.”