Last season, John Tavares showed what he was capable of by playing like one of the best in the league. Unlike a few years ago, the crown of best in the league is no longer just going to Sidney Crosby. Now you can have conversations about Steven Stamkos, Jamie Benn, Alexander Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson, Jonathan Toews and Tavares. The conversation will continue to evolve as more young superstars like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid and others tend to develop.
If New York Islanders fans want to see a legitimate run this year, Tavares needs to step away from the pack. After double-digit points in November and October, he only has six points in December with one game to go. He is much better than he has been this season. He is nowhere near the top in any offensive categories.
Tavares is on pace for 65 points this year. Last year, he scored 86 points and was second in the league in that category, one point behind Benn. This year is not going the way Tavares hoped.
Lucky for the Islanders, they are able to string together wins without their superstar carrying them. They are 20-12-5, which is good for second in the Metropolitan Division. Besides the Washington Capitals, nobody in that division has been terribly convincing. The New York Rangers have been struggling, the New Jersey Devils can’t seem to put together a full week of good performances, and the rest of the division isn’t even at 40 points.
The Islanders can definitely make the playoffs with the way they are playing now, but they won’t go far. They have an above-average team with this current Tavares. If he plays like the superstar he is, this team will become a Stanley Cup contender. Tavares has three months to turn around his season. He needs to carry this team if they are going anywhere this year, especially with the eventual trade of Travis Hamonic.