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In praise of John Tavares

Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Chad Johnson AP

We’re really not going out on a limb here, but John Tavares is worth every bit of praise he’s received.

As if being a finalist for the Hart Trophy two seasons ago didn’t do the job, his performance last season was enough to make fans across the league take further notice of the 23-year-old Islanders phenom.

Before he suffered a season-ending injury at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Tavares had 24 goals and 66 points in 59 games. That kind of output put him at a 1.12 points per-game pace. That rate was good for fourth in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Ryan Getzlaf and was the best mark in his five seasons in the NHL.

Consider this: Since debuting with the Islanders in 2009-10 after being taken first overall at the 2009 NHL Draft, he’s scored 24 or more goals each season. He scored 28 during the 48-game lockout shortened 2013 season and had a career-high 31 the one before that. He’s been scoring at a point per-game rate for the past three seasons. If that’s not the definition of “elite” then there’s something wrong with how things are determined.

As good as his goal scoring prowess is, his ability to make teammates better is right there with it. After Thomas Vanek was traded from the Islanders to the Montreal Canadiens, his one lament was that he wouldn’t be on a line with Tavares and Kyle Okposo anymore as Arthur Staple of Newsday shared back in March.

“I expected a lot more out of all of us,” Vanek said. “Looking back, that line with me, Okie [Kyle Okposo] and Johnny, it was the best line I’ve ever been on. But you look at seven to eight games where we should have won and that’s all the difference in the standings.”

In truth, that line was great as Vanek had 44 points in 47 games with the Isles and Okposo turned in a career-year of his own with 27 goals and 69 points. Previous to helping Vanek, it was Matt Moulson who reaped the benefits of playing on his left wing.

It’s a bit wild to think that someone Tavares’ age is the one helping pick up the careers of guys older than him, but this just shows how great he’s been. If he can avoid complications from his torn MCL, he’s poised to continue his skyward ascent as one of the league’s top players and perhaps lead the Islanders back to the postseason in 2014-15.

Related: It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT

  1. wranglerick - Aug 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Hopefully he can lead the team into making a little noise in the playoffs. One last hoorah for the colisuem.

  2. jetfan74 - Aug 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Plug and play at LW. It doesn’t matter who, because JT is the man!!!!

  3. 950003cups - Aug 22, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Johnny Hockey?

    • mackattack29 - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Lol were talking about Tavares, not Gaudreau. Haha (joking)

  4. islesjb - Aug 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    Couldn’t think of a better player to lead this organization out of the dark ages. Only 23 and he just gets better and better every year.

    Super psyched to have a healthy JT back this season who, according to the trainer he works out with each off season, looks better than he’s ever seen him

  5. 19to77 - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Shame Garth Snow was so impatient with Niederreiter. Damn, that line would be good.

    • wutangwild - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Agreed, but man am I glad Fletcher made that trade. Isles mgmt really messed with his development..

      • mackattack29 - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        In truth, Nino was the epitome of a difficult prospect. He had all this potential and came into camp expecting things to just happen. Thankfully he’s matured. But there was a time when it was all but assured that he was going to be a bust.

  6. mackattack29 - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Bold prediction for next season: Tavares will win the art ross.

  7. chitown56 - Aug 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Idk about that Mac, don’t get me wrong he is an elite player in the league but me being a stubborn hawks fan I’ll say towes for the art ross

    • pfhockey - Aug 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      Toews for Art Ross? Interesting….

    • royalvoyager - Aug 22, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Toews will win the norris before he wins the art ross

  8. djshnooks - Aug 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    A Hawks fan and you can’t spell “Toews?”

  9. DED - Aug 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    As a Ranger fan, I’m required by law to hate the Islanders. Still, I hope that Tavares stays injury-free all year so that their fans can see them play to their full potential.

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