For some no. 1 overall picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), the jump and transition to the NHL, usually as a teenager, is seamless. They step right on the ice and immediately impress and enter stardom. For others, that transition takes a bit longer. The latter is the case with John Tavares.
Tavares was selected no. 1 overall by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Obviously trying to perform with the Islanders isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially for an 18-year-old.
Tavares put up pretty solid numbers in his first couple of years, but it was this 2011-2012 season where we really saw Tavares begin to break out.
In his third year, Tavares trumped his previous career highs all over the board. He posted 81 points, including 31 goals. While he still fell on the negative side with his plus/minus, his minus-6 was, by far, the best of his career. He also won more than 51 percent of his draws, taking the fifth most faceoffs in the league.
With numbers like that, it’s clear Tavares is “finally” emerging as an elite player in the National Hockey League. The only question is whether or not he’ll be able to build on it in 2012-2013.
If he does, and I think he will, Tavares has a chance to break into the top few players in the entire league next year. Elite two-way centers are a commodity in this league, and John Tavares has an opportunity to work his way into a conversation that already includes the likes of Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, among others.
While that might be getting a little ahead of ourselves, it’s clear that Tavares is becoming an elite player and should carry that label heading into the new season. That’s great news, and some validation, for an organization that is very much in flux right now.