With the season nearing its conclusion, most Islanders fans have already turned the page and are looking forward to next season. That feeling is certainly a common occurence on Long Island. However, there is one thing that keeps drawing me to the television for these last few games, besides just loving the sport of hockey. And that is to watch budding superstar John Tavares. The third year center has now played 76 games and has recorded 75 points. Considering the Isles are the fifth worst team in the league and the fourth lowest scoring team (185 goals), this is a remarkable feat.
The threshold of 82 points in a season would mean a player has averaged at least a point per game (if not more due to injuries). It’s not as sexy a number as recording 100 points, but in today’s NHL finishing with 82 points separates the elite scorers from the rest of the field. Tavares, just 21 years old, is looking to join that elite class for the first time in his young and promising career. It would also be the first time an Islander finished with more than 82 points since the 1997-98 season when Ziggy Palffy recorded 87 points. Do you know how long ago 1997 was? Sergei Nemchinov, Joe Sacco and Robert Reichel were on the team in 1997. John Tavares was only 7 years old in 1997! If Tavares could pull off 7 points in his last 6 games it will be a shot in the arm to Islanders fans and something to hang their hat on after another disappointing season.
Regardless of what happens in this final week and a half, the league has certainly taken notice to Tavares and all the attributes he brings to the table. After two “ok” seasons, he has finally taken that next step into stardom. He made his first All-Star Game this season and showed everyone the skills and playmaking ability he possesses in both the game and skills competition. From the first game of the season against the Panthers to last night’s victory at Pittsburgh, Tavares has been the hardest working player on the team on a nightly basis. Combine that with being the most skilled player on the ice and you have your team leader and future superstar. Heck, he has even resorted to coaching the team during timeouts! With JT currently sitting tied for 8th in the league in scoring, Islanders fans can smile when they see his name atop of that list. And they can smile knowing the team is in good hands with him leading the way for years to come. However, unless the front office can surround him with legit NHL talent soon, we could be looking at Tavares being the next Rick Nash. A super talent, wasted away on a perennial bottom dwelling team. A strong finish to the season for the Islanders, and mainly Tavares, could help lure some free agents into signing on the Island this off-season. After all, we know they won’t be coming to Long Island for the asbestos!
Joe is a graduate of Hofstra University and die-hard Islanders fan covering the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Playing hockey for many years and watching the sport all his life, Joe is devoted to the game of hockey.