Tavares was awarded “exceptional player status” in 2005 by the junior Ontario Hockey League, a rule created specifically to allow him to join the league at just 14 years of age. His birthday fell five days too late to qualify for the 2008 draft, so he has languished in the OHL for four full seasons, all the while being hyped as The Next Big Thing.
Depending on how the scheduling falls, the game in KC could even be Tavares’s first in the NHL. I don’t even want to think about the possibility of the Islanders not sending him to play. (It’s also within the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely, that the Islanders select Victor Hedman with the first pick.)
For all the hype about Tavares, he doesn’t quite live up to some all-time greats who passed through Canadian junior hockey (or even Alexandre Daigle) when it comes to points scored per game as a junior:
2.81 Mario Lemieux (1.88 in the NHL)
2.76 Wayne Gretzky (1.92)
2.50 Sidney Crosby (1.37)
2.27 Eric Lindros (1.14)
2.05 Alexandre Daigle (.53)
1.75 John Tavares
Regardless of how Tavares fares in the long term, we in Kansas City can look forward to seeing him take one of the very first steps in an eagerly anticipated NHL career.