In four seasons in the OHL, he accumulated 433 points, including 215 goals—more than Wayne Gretzky. He has led Team Canada to two World Junior Championship gold medals.
Of course, I am talking about John Tavares.
Tavares is the real deal. He can make plays, has soft hands, he scores goals, and, most importantly, has great hockey sense.
Since he was 14, he has been groomed to be a No. 1 pick in the NHL. He is not the type to focus too much on off-ice activity, and will no doubt keep his mind on learning and improving his professional game.
The Islanders have made sure to temper expectations of Tavares to ease the pressure of being an over-hyped prospect. However, Tavares only has the highest expectations for himself and will do his best to reach his potential.
The forwards that have been selected as No. 1 picks before Tavares have been very successful in the NHL. From 2004-2008: Ovechkin, Crosby, Kane, and Stamkos (Erik Johnson in 2006).
This is a good trend, and I could see Tavares following a similar career path. Tavares has as much skill as, if not more than, those players mentioned. Can we expect the same career production from Tavares as those players simply based on where they were drafted?
Of course not.
However, the potential of that type of career is very possible. Once a player makes it to the NHL, it is a matter of how much you work on your game and evolve at a professional level that takes you to the elite status. Does Tavares have the work ethic that can lead him to a Crosby or Ovechkin-type career?
Yes he does; he is the real deal.
His skill is unquestioned. However, hockey is a team game and who Tavares plays with will slightly affect his point totals—for his rookie year, anyway. He needs guys to play with whomever can finish and whomever can clear a path for him to create.
According to the always reliable Chris Botta at IslandersPointBlank.com, during the Islanders’ final exhibition game, Tavares was centering the top line with Matt Moulson and Sean Bergenheim. In this 4-2 win over the Devils, Doug Weight and Kyle Okposo were out of the lineup.
Apparently, both Moulson and Bergenheim have been having great training camps.
However, from a fantasy perspective, Okposo has to be playing with Tavares. Okposo is a strong power forward who draws comparisons to Jarome Iginla. At 20 and only playing 65 games for the Islanders last season, Okposo led the team in goals with 18.
Okposo should eventually play on Tavares' wing and those two will do major damage in the NHL. Okposo just needs to watch out for blind side cheap shots during the preseason by Frankenstein look-alikes.
Of all the prospects in the NHL, Tavares has to be on the top of any list to have the most upside. Based on his career in the OHL, since his performances at World Junior Championships, he has excelled at every level. The NHL is his next mountain to climb.
The Islanders will not hold him back. They do not have many options offensively and need Tavares to immediately put goals on the board.
Therefore, I fearlessly forecast 25 goals, 39 assists for 64 points. (THN predicts: 24-37-61). This is more on the higher end of a moderate prediction for Tavares, but I really believe in him. Expect much more in years to come.
In keeper pools, he is an absolute must-have. Like the real game, he is a guy to build around and a guy who will eventually bring you a championship. For this year, however, he should be drafted at around the 100 pick. In two of my one-year drafts, he was taken at No. 129 and No. 71. However, in my keeper league, he was drafted first overall.
Be sure to come back next year for 2010-2011 forecasts. Until then, good luck this fantasy season and I hope I have helped you picking players that will bring you your pool championship.
50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecasts