DETROIT >> Tomas Tatar became an every-dayer last season.
And on Monday the Detroit Red Wings forward got paid like one.
Tatar, who was a restricted free agent, signed a three-year deal with an annual salary-cap hit of $2.75 million.
In his first full season in the NHL, Tatar, 23, scored 19 goals, had 20 assists and was a plus-12 in 73 games.
“His best years are still ahead of him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “He plays hard and goes to the hard areas. He’s a very important player on our team.”
Tatar, along with a number of other young forwards, was thrust into the spotlight last season due to the overabundance of injuries the Wings suffered.
“He’s probably one of our top line forwards,” Holland said. “We’d like to roll three lines out there that can score. That’s the way we’ve built our team for a lot of years.
“We need to continue to get offense from a lot of our kids with Tats being one of them,” Holland added.
Tatar, whose salary cap his was $630,000 last season, will still be a restricted free agent when the deal expires in 2017. Players don’t reach unrestricted free agency until the age of 27. Tatar will be 26.
When the season began, Tatar could not find his way into the lineup, playing in just one of the Wings’ first nine games of the season.
“I like him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the time. “I think he’s a good player. He’s a very usable player, has a knack for the net. But early going in the season, tie goes to the veteran not to the kid. That’s just life. It’s amazing how that works. We’ll get it worked out.”
Tatar was coming off being named the American Hockey League MVP after leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to win the 2013 Calder Cup, scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Babcock said when asked about how the youngsters helped the club qualify for the postseason for a 23rd consecutive season. “They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere. They’re real good players that keep getting better and will be part of us for a long time.”
Tatar, who was the Wings’ 60th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has played 100 games with Detroit, totaling 24 goals and 23 assists.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser is the lone restricted free agent left to sign and Holland doesn’t see getting a deal done to be a problem prior to training camp.
The Wings now have 14 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies signed to one-way contracts, which brings their payroll close to $64 million, leaving them just over $5 million in cap space. This year’s salary cap is $69 million.
That money will be used to sign DeKeyser and possibly Daniel Alfredsson, who won’t know if he’s returning to the team until a couple weeks before training camp that begins Sept. 18 in Traverse City.