John Tavares finished his first season in the NHL for the New York Islanders. He finished second in rookie scoring, but didn’t help the Isles improve much in the standings…yet. Will he really be the cornerstone that turns around this franchise?
Profile: A special provision allowed him to be drafted into the OHL at age 14 (15 was the minimum), and he made the most of it. He was awarded the top OHL and CHL rookie, and followed it up with one hell of a sophomore season. There, he broke Wayne Gretzky’s scoring record for most goals by a 16 year old. He could have led the league in scoring the next season, but decided to help Team Canada win a gold in the World Junior Championships, for a second time. He was once again too young to participate in the NHL draft, but they declined to change their rules. The following year, he was the top rated prospect and went 1st overall.
What makes him special?: Speed, eh, not really. His success comes from anticipation, proving that he’s a smart player. He didn’t get much exposure this past season because of the team he plays for. He’s not very flashy, and doesn’t attract much attention. But he’s got a nose for the net, and he’s going to make a name for himself very soon. At every level that he’s played at, he’s scored a ton of goals. Don’t be too shocked to see him do something similar to what Steven Stamkos has done in his second season.
Jersey Worthy?: Definite buy. He’s the best player on his team, which is following the same formula that Pittsburgh and Chicago have used recently (suck for a few years, build through high draft picks). And unless the Islanders move, he’ll be the leader of this team for a long time.
Hate factor: He’s a quiet guy, not very big, not very physical. He’ll be hated pretty soon though, as he starts lighting up the scoreboard against everyone else.
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