The New Jersey Devils made an intriguing move in NHL Free Agency last week. New Jersey signed veteran forward Tomas Tatar to a one-year, $1.8 million contract a day after the market opened. 2023-24 was a rough season for the veteran forward. He began the year with the Colorado Avalanche before being traded to the Seattle Kraken. Overall, he scored just nine goals and 24 points during the regular season.

It was a bit of a fall from grace after leaving the Devils at the end of the 2022-23 NHL season. This past season marked the first time he failed to score 10 or more goals in a full season. He last fell short of 10 goals in 2012-13 when he scored four goals in 19 games for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tatar hopes to bounce back in 2024-25, and he believes a return to New Jersey can help revitalize him. “It was a pretty easy decision to come back, and honestly it feels like I’m coming home,” Tatar shared with the team's official website on Monday. “I know everyone, know my teammates, know the staff, and it’s very warming (for me).”

Bond between Devils, Tomas Tatar runs deep

New Jersey Devils left wing Tomas Tatar (90) celebrates his goal against the New York Rangers during the second period in game seven of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Tatar joined the Avalanche in NHL Free Agency last summer. But he never truly left the Devils locker room. The veteran forward revealed that he remained in touch with his New Jersey teammates throughout the year. His relationships with those in this locker room helped make this decision a rather easy one to make.

“Honestly the bond in the locker room (with) the team, I felt we were really close,” Tatar said, via the Devils official website. “We were still in touch with everyone, I was wondering how they were doing, they were texting me how I’m doing during the season. When you come into a locker room like that when you feel the bond, the camaraderie here, it’s just a great feeling.”

Tatar enjoyed some success with the Devils his first time around. He joined through NHL Free Agency from the Montreal Canadiens in 2021. With New Jersey, the veteran forward scored 35 goals and 78 points through 135 regular season games. He came short of the 61 points he put up for the Habs in 2019-20, but he proved he could still provide secondary offense down the lineup.

Where Tatar fits in with the Devils this season remains to be seen. However, he has a chance to contribute to a team hoping to contend for the playoffs once again in 2025. And a bounce back season could see him earn a better contract in NHL Free Agency next summer.