NHL Draft Prospects: Can John Tavares Handle the Pressure?

Aaron BrenkerCorrespondent INovember 26, 2008

Being the first pick of the NHL draft means you are clearly the best prospect around, that you can handle the pressures that come with the label of No. 1 pick.

But is highly touted prospect John Tavares ready to possibly be dubbed the No. 1 prospect?

Players such as Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuck, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Vincent Lecavalier have been able to handle the pressure of being No. 1 picks, and are putting together stellar NHL careers, but a prospect that fails to meet their potential faces a lifetime of criticism.

First overall pick busts such as Patrik Stefan, Alexandre Daigle and Joe Murphy set the franchises that selected them back a few years—not to mention were hampered by judgment on every little mistake they made.

The 2009 NHL entry draft is still quite awhile away, and prospects such as Victor Hedman or Jared Cowen could overtake Tavares as the No. 1 prospect, it seems to many though that Tavares is the most talented prospect in this coming draft.

Tavares certainly has been impressive in his OHL career, he does not seem to be as talented as those who can before him however. Many have claimed him as the "next great one", much like they did with Sidney Crosby.

If drafted first Tavares will be faced with unparalelled pressure, and most likely the weight of a struggling franchise on his shoulders.

The Oshawa Generals sniper will most likely be rushed into professional play, much like Steven Stamkos and will struggle with growing pains, which will make fans become uneasy and truly test Tavares confidence, strength and will.

Tavares must show that he will not let the criticism bother him, because a great NHL player is not defined by how many goals he scores, but how quickly he silences his critics.