At the beginning of every NHL season, everyone always debates who the best player in the league is going to be.
It seems to be the same players that are discussed every year. Guys like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele, Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin, and so on and so forth. For the past two seasons, it’s been McDavid hands down.
This season, however, another hat is getting tossed into the ring. That hat belongs to the newest and high-priced member of the Maple Leafs, John Tavares.
While many of you are probably going to disagree with me, I’m here to explain my side a bit. Again, you can disagree with me, but what I am about to say should at least be considered.
While it is only preseason, JT has been an absolute beast in two games. In his first “game” as a Leaf, he tallied two goals and an assist against the Ottawa Senators and tonight against the Sabres, he scored two more goals to give him five points in two games.
It is clear that Tavares has a lot more talent around him than McDavid does. JT has a supporting cast consisting of Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Patrick Marleau, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, and even Tyler Ennis. A lot of these guys can put up points so if JT is ever on the ice with them, you can bet that he will end up producing.
Tavares is also going to get a ton of opportunities to be productive on the power play as a net front presence. He will be there to cash in on rebounds from the likes of Matthews, Marner, Patrick Marleau, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Reilly, etc., which should help elevate his both his goal and point totals.
Depending on what line he gets put on, he could end up having some favorable line match-ups, especially on home ice. Kadri’s line is a good grind-line that will probably play against the other team’s top lines, which could end up opening things up for JJT and Matthews.
Tavares may not match what Ovechkin can do in terms of putting the puck in the net this year, but he might come close. Should he manage to do that, it will be the first time in over 70 years that a member of the Leafs has led the league in goals.
The Leafs, along with Tavares, have an opportunity to do something special this season. For that to happen, they will need JT to be at his absolute best, which could end up pushing him to be the league’s top gun this year.