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The (positive) change in Tavares' game

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08:27 AM ET 01.03 | John Tavares may be behind the curve as a No. 1 overall pick, but a) he's playing for the Islanders and b) he may be coming around. Something clicked a few weeks ago, right about the time he engaged in his first career fight. On Dec. 11 against the Atlanta Thrashers, Tavares tussled with Alexander Burmistrov in the first scrap of either player's NHL career. In letting out some aggression, Tavares has seemingly knocked off the pressure of being the biggest offensive weapon.

Calgary Sun

John Tavares, Getty Images John Tavares, Getty Images
January 3, 2011  09:14 AM ET

He played well against the Pens. But he still plays for the Islanders so he's got his work cut out for him.

January 3, 2011  09:21 AM ET

For God's sake people, Mr. Hockey, The Great One, or The Next one wouldn't look good playing for the Isle.

January 3, 2011  09:58 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

For God's sake people, Mr. Hockey, The Great One, or The Next one wouldn't look good playing for the Isle.

just think what Taveres' numbers would look like on Detroit/Chicago/Vancouver/Pens/Caps, etc...

January 3, 2011  10:29 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

just think what Taveres' numbers would look like on Detroit/Chicago/Vancouver/Pens/Caps, etc...

You could say similar things about Dale Hawerchuck or Marcel Dionne back in the day too. How good could Alexandre Daigle have been had he been drafted by the Avalanche instead? Patrik Stefan to the Sharks instead of the Thrashers? Hypotheticals make no sense, and truly elite players make the team they are on be better. Remember the Pens were God-Awful when Mario got there and turned them around. The Dead Things were a laughing stock when Yzerman was drafted. The Caps were terrible without Ovechkin. Hall looks better in Edmonton, and that team isn't leaps and bounds better than the Islanders are. Tavares has accomplished nothing compared to any of those guys I just named. He needs to be better if this team is going to start turning things around at all. Sure, its a sadsack franchise, but at some point the players have to take some responsibility. We'll know more next season, no doubt, but right now he's not looking like any kind of Mike Bossy remake, and the Islanders can't afford to have another disappointing 1st round pick.

January 3, 2011  11:07 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

He played well against the Pens. But he still plays for the Islanders so he's got his work cut out for him.

He always plays well against us. He would be that much better on any other team, I agree.

January 3, 2011  11:15 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

the Islanders can't afford to have another disappointing 1st round pick.

What difference does it make really? None of their draft picks are staying past their 3 year rookie contract. The way this team is being/has been run into the ground isn't making folks chomp at the bit to sign contracts there. Management/ownership hsa been proven unwilling to spend the money to make this team competitive. Even if they did start spending, given their history of decisionmaking, they would probably spend too much on the wrong players.

That being said Tavares isn't the real deal imo. You can say that he would score more given a better supporting cast, but then i would say who wouldn't? Great players get it done no matter where they are or what they have to work with. That is what makes them great. in 33 games he has 24 points and is minus 15. He's still young with lots of potential and i've no doubt he'll be playing for a different team come next season's TDL.

January 3, 2011  11:54 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

What difference does it make really? None of their draft picks are staying past their 3 year rookie contract. The way this team is being/has been run into the ground isn't making folks chomp at the bit to sign contracts there. Management/ownership hsa been proven unwilling to spend the money to make this team competitive. Even if they did start spending, given their history of decisionmaking, they would probably spend too much on the wrong players.That being said Tavares isn't the real deal imo. You can say that he would score more given a better supporting cast, but then i would say who wouldn't? Great players get it done no matter where they are or what they have to work with. That is what makes them great. in 33 games he has 24 points and is minus 15. He's still young with lots of potential and i've no doubt he'll be playing for a different team come next season's TDL.

Solid post.

But there is a better chance of keeping their picks after the entry level contracts if the Isles can just get a foundation to start building on. Guys will start staying with the team. FAs sign for the opportunity to play with those players, and a team gets better as a result. If they can sign Tavares, maybe some of the other youth stick around too. If that happens, then maybe you get a FA center who would like to have a trigger man like Tavares on his line, so he signs with the Isle too. Next thing you know, you've got a real team. Look at the Blackhawks. Its easy to forget just how unpalatable this team was for NHLers up until 2 years ago, but Brian Campbell has his contract because the 'hawks were such an awful option for FAs at the time that they had to overpay to bring in FA talent. Now you have elite players taking less money to play there.

I mostly agree with your assessment of Tavares so far, and make a comparison as such: he's more Kessel than Heatley. Not taking into questions of heart, class, etc. and more about talent. Heater is as good a trigger man as the game has seen in the last 20 years. Kessel seems to be very good, but not elite. I'm thinking this is where Tavares will land. Potential for 40, but no expectations for that 40 like there is with Heater.

January 3, 2011  03:37 PM ET

Is the trainer in the pic wearing a toupee? Something weird going on with that lid.

January 4, 2011  02:04 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

What difference does it make really? None of their draft picks are staying past their 3 year rookie contract. The way this team is being/has been run into the ground isn't making folks chomp at the bit to sign contracts there. Management/ownership hsa been proven unwilling to spend the money to make this team competitive. Even if they did start spending, given their history of decisionmaking, they would probably spend too much on the wrong players.That being said Tavares isn't the real deal imo. You can say that he would score more given a better supporting cast, but then i would say who wouldn't? Great players get it done no matter where they are or what they have to work with. That is what makes them great. in 33 games he has 24 points and is minus 15. He's still young with lots of potential and i've no doubt he'll be playing for a different team come next season's TDL.

Ridiculous post. Was Mark Streit the wrong player? How about Matt Moulson? And how in the world can you write a player off when he has not even finished his second year in the NHL? It took your three best forwards FIVE YEARS (after getting drafted) each to match or exceed what JT did last year his rookie season. Hell, JT's numbers last year are better than Bobby C's his first year. Gee, maybe the Flyers should have dealt Bobby C. He clearly wasn't going to amount to anything!!!!

 
January 4, 2011  02:08 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

He always plays well against us. He would be that much better on any other team, I agree.

Coulda said the same about Sid his first year. That's kinda how you get #1 overall picks.

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