Thursday, April 16, 2009

John Tavares (Probably) Headed To KC

It wont do anything to excite the vast majority of sports fans in Kansas City, but hockey diehards can look forward to seeing the next projected NHL phenom when the Islanders visit the Sprint Center this September. The Islanders were rewarded for being the worst team in the NHL last season by winning the draft lottery and the right to draft John Tavares.

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 Tavaress first in the NHL. I dont even want to think about the possibility of the Islanders not sending him to play. (Its 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 doesnt 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.

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