Tavares

 

As most teams have played six or seven games and the rust has shaken off, we are starting to see who is performing up to standards and who is either exceeding or falling short of our expectations. Although most expected an improvement, New York Islanders captain John Tavares is one of those players exceeding our expectations early. In fact, the only person scoring at a higher pace in the NHL right now is Toronto sniper Phil Kessel (Kessel is on pace to score 164 points while Tavares is on pace to score 137).

 

 

Tavares, who joined the lowly Islanders immediately after being drafted first overall in 2009, scored a respectable 54 points in his rookie campaign, followed by a 67-point effort a year ago. Now entering his third NHL season, people are wondering just how good he will be. Tavares has yet to break the 30-goal barrier, but has averaged 26.5 goals per year in his limited career. Before entering the NHL, Tavares tallied 45, 72, 40, and 58 goals respectively in his four years in the OHL, while breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record of 70 goals in one OHL season along the way. While his great vision led to a 29-goal, 38-assist campaign a year ago, Tavares is a gifted goal scorer, who should have little trouble reaching the 30-goal mark this season.

 

frozen pool

 

In his rookie campaign, Tavares had 186 shots with a 12.9% shooting percentage. John followed that up with 243 shots at an 11.9% success rate. This year, he’s shooting even more and is on pace for 300 shots on goal. If Tavares does manage to crank out a 300-shot season with a 12.5% shooting percentage, the result would be a 38-goal season. It’s early, but that is pretty encouraging for Tavares owners.  Last year, 38 goals would have been the sixth-highest total in the league.

 

In terms of Tavares’ linemates, we all know the P.A Parenteau story. Okposo was injured early last season, opening the door for Parenteau to skate with Tavares, and P.A. never looked back. Heading into 2011-12, Okposo owners were hoping for Parenteau to finally be taken off the Tavares and Moulson line, giving Okposo the top-line position that seemed to be all but guaranteed to Okposo just 13 months ago. So far, that does not appear to be a likely scenario.

 

The Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau line has been rock solid for the 3-3 Islanders. Moulson and Tavares are both gifted goal scorers, while Parenteau is proving himself to be a more-than-capable setup man. Through only six games, Parenteau has a goal and seven assists, while Tavares is boasting six goals and four assists. The line is averaging 17-18 minutes a game and is providing just about all of the offense in Long Island. Moulson has only four points, but the chemistry of the line is unmistakable. Don’t fix what’s not broken is the approach most coaches take when they see this type of success, and it is very unlikely this line is broken up any time soon.

 

GM Garth Snow has proven to be a savvy leader for this Islanders organization, and one great move was to ink Tavares to a six-year extension at a $5.5M cap hit before the season started. With $2.2 million on the books to Alexei Yashin for the next four years and $4.5 million committed to DiPietro through 2021, Snow has to be smart with his money. While it’s unlikely that Tavares has a 91-point season like Stamkos (who had the privilege of skating with former Hart winner Martin St. Louis), Snow wanted to be absolutely certain to avoid what the Lightning went through with “Stammergeddon,” which eventually led to a five-year contract at a cap hit of $2 million more than Tavares’ contract.

 

Tavares is almost guaranteed to have a career year and is starting the season off with a bang. In the short term, if the Islanders continue to keep the Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau line intact, all three players are worth a spot on your fantasy roster. If Moulson or Parenteau are injured, Grabner and Okposo are very solid players who should not slow Tavares’ production down at all. Long term, the Islanders are committing their money wisely and not overspending. Parenteau is a free agent after this season and if he is not brought back, the Islanders still have a very appealing crop of talent ready to emerge. Whether you’re in a one-year league or a keeper league, Tavares is a great player to own and is just beginning to show what he is capable of doing at the NHL level.

 


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Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... Sometimes the right fit isn't necessarily the quickest fit. I'd say the Islanders selections of Strome, Niederreiter, de Haan, and Bailey are still solid choices. After the Islanders rushed Bailey into the league, I think they were more than willing to wait on the others.

As the young nucleus of this team begins to gel together, this team will be a strong team in the league, which is something that was never going to happen before Snow took his office job.
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... DiPietro's deal was signed during Snow's tenure at GM, but that contract was, by all accounts, Wang's idea. Snow has done very well via working the waiver wire and/or taking on reclamation projects (Moulson, Grabner, Parenteau, Montoya, Nabokov) and seems to have chosen rightly in drafting Tavares over Hedman. In Snow's first season he pulled the trigger on key trades for Ryan Smyth and M-A Bergeron, that enabled the team to make the playoffs and ended costing the team nothing of consequence in the long run. However, when he has been in the position of 'seller' (which has been since 2007) his track record in trades has not been nearly as good. Also, aside from Tavares, Snow's first round picks have yet to set the hockey world on fire as Bailey, a relatively off-the-board pick has mostly struggled; de Haan has yet to make the Isles while a more highly-regarded (even at the time) defenseman that he was drafted over (Kulikov) is now playing in his 3rd NHL season; Niederreiter could still be a gem, but he has a long way to go to catch up to the likes of Fowler or Skinner, who have already made big impacts in cracking the lineups of better NHL teams.
October 24, 2011
Votes: +1

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
Snow Sorry...for some reason I thought the DiPietro contract was in place before Snow. That's the only blemish I can see over the five and a half years he's been GM. What else did I miss?
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... How could you not say that? He inherited one of the worst teams in the league with brutal contracts and he has not mismanaged his cap at all, he's invested in youth, drafted well, brought in a goalie who is proving to be a legitimate workhorse in Al Montoya, added a great trade asset in Nabokov...what else can you ask of the guy? I'd say he's done just about nothing wrong in that organization.
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Scott Spooner said:

RamblersHockey
... Whoa, I thought you totally said that Garth Snow was a savvy leader for the Islanders............
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Tim Lucarelli said:

duballstar014
... I totally agree that Tavares has the skill to get there and I think he'll turn some heads along the way to compete for a trophy like that, but I just don't see him actually winning it. Tavares has definitely clicked with Streit on the PP, deflecting a few pucks in early. Having Streit back will really help him over the course of the season.

Okposo has been such a big disappointment and I feel bad for the guy. He has tons of skill, but he has struggled in a secondary role. He is certainly capable of more than what his current performance is showing (same could be said about Bailey), and I think he's still bitter about losing his top-line spot to Parenteau. The problem is that the only way to win that job back is to prove you deserve it, which is something that Okposo has not been able to do. They did show some solid chemistry last season, so I think they'll be fine with time, but early on, it's definitely the Tavares line that is doing all the damage. If the Grabner-Nielsen-Okposo line can get going too, the Isles will be winning a decent chunk of hockey games. Probably more than people expect.
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Tavares could be headed for an Art Ross and/or Rocket Richard Trophy this season. He now has the strength on the puck to go along with the extraordinary stick-handling/ hand-eye coordination and he is just relentlessly buzzing around in the other team's net seemingly every shift. While Moulson will be JT's LW for the foreseeable future, Parenteau has also taken his game up a notch so far season, and has solidified his spot on this line. Tavares and Streit have shown some outstanding chemistry in teaming up for several goals (already) off of faceoff draws, particularly on the power play. Other than the JT line and Streit and aside from Nielsen and Grabner getting some chances here and there, no one else on this team has contributed anything offensively so far. This is especially true about Okposo. While he seems to be a favorite around this site and in fantasy hockey circles in general, I think people who follow this team closely will tell you that he just doesn't exhibit the kind of offensive skill that many seem to assume that he has. The sentiment among fantasy hockey people seems to be the KO is being forced into an unfavorable situation by playing with Nielsen and Grabner when, in fact, Nielsen and Grabner are far better offensive players than Okposo at this point.
October 24, 2011
Votes: +0
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