John Tavares for MVP? Not This Year.

As the Islanders have been surging towards a playoff spot, I’ve been reading a lot about the Islanders and the possibilities of individual awards – things like “Jack Capuano should win the Jack Adams,” have been sprawled across my news-feeds. I read some Tweets with “Nabokov” and “Vezina” in the same sentence. Of course, I also read about John Tavares, and him being a deserving candidate for this year’s Hart Memorial Trophy.

If the Islanders make the playoffs, does John Tavares deserve to win the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the National Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player? Let’s discuss.

John Tavares: Future captain of the Islanders, franchise corner-stone, and blossoming NHL-superstar can all be used to describe #91.

After his 81-point campaign in 2011-12, the highest total for an Islanders’ player since Zigmund Palffy, John Tavares is proving that he could be even better.  With 42 points through 42 games, Tavares is on pace to achieve a point-per-game pace on the season. His 24 goals through 42 games has him third in the NHL in scoring, and only seven goals shy of his career-best 31 goals that he also set last season.

Yes, John Tavares is developing into a true offensive superstar as both a pure goal-scorer and a dynamic play-maker; but, again, is he MVP candidate-worthy?

Well, John Tavares is 10th in NHL-scoring with 42 points. He’s third in the NHL in goals scored. He is the undisputed top-player on the Islanders. Without him, the Islanders wouldn’t be in the playoff race. He’s easily an MVP-candidate. Does he deserve to win it?

I’ll take some flak for this, but I don’t think this year. Before we get all up in arms, let me explain that I think Tavares has plenty of hardware coming to him in the very near future. I think he’s the Islanders most important player, but I don’t think he’s quite there yet as the NHL’s most valuable player, and here’s why.

For one, John Tavares is up their in a statistics sense, but he’s not quite up there, yet. As I mentioned, he’s 10th in the NHL in scoring, and as BD Gallof mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, every MVP since 2003 has been at least third in scoring throughout the league. Tavares sits behind the likes of Sidney Crosby, who has created a monster out of Chris Kunitz, Patrick Kane, and Alex Ovechkin.

Look, Tavares is on pace for 82 points in a full 82-game campaign. That’s only a one-point improvement from last season. Has he reached his ceiling? Absolutely not, but #91 still has some areas of his game that can be improved, including his -5 rating. It’s not the defining statistic, but the fact that he’s been on the ice for 39 goals against (first amongst Islanders’ forwards) will hurt his chance to win the NHL’s MVP.

And sure, it’s fair to use the argument saying that John Tavares is the Islanders best player, but has it really been all about him? No, I’m not bashing John Tavares. The kid’s the best player to come through Long Island in over a decade. I just find it hard to believe that John Tavares is the sole reason why this team is in a playoff spot right now.

Truth be told, the Islanders have improved in many other areas throughout their line-up. On paper, the names of the players may not stick out, but results-wise, the Islanders have seen production from areas the Islanders saw virtually no production from last season.

In 2011-12, the Islanders 4th-line regulars totaled three goals through an entire 82-game season. This season, the Islanders have seen six goals from Casey Cizikas, seven goals from Colin McDonald, and three goals from Matt Martin. That’s a 500% increase in production from the Islanders 4th-line in half the amount of time!

The Islanders have also received 17 goals from their defensemen, a total that reached 19 goals through 82 games last season. The blue-line is providing some extra offense for this team, as well.

I’m not saying the Islanders would make the playoffs without John Tavares, because they wouldn’t. I also cannot say they would make the playoffs if it weren’t for the extra scoring that is being provided this season in comparison to last. This playoff push has been a team effort. Everyone has contributed a little bit, including fourteen different players in this line-up tallying game-winners this season, with Josh Bailey being the most recent.

I think John Tavares belongs in the Hart discussion. I believe he is the Islanders clear-cut MVP. I don’t believe he is the NHL’s MVP this season, but that’s OK. The Islanders, and John Tavares, will continue their focus on what’s at hand. The NHL Playoffs has a target on its figurative back. I bet you John Tavares would take a Conn Smythe over the Hart Trophy, anyways.

Follow @ChrisTriants

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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  1. KO21 says:

    If JT kept up that torrid pace through the first half of this season he would have a great chance to win the Hart Trophy. It just seems like hes slowed down quite a bit. I watch guys like Rick Nash and Jagr and think how much a guy like that could help JT get going again. It even seems like JT hasn’t passing as much to his linemates. He seems to be trying to do too much all by himself. Get him an elite winger to play with, please?!?!?!

    • ChrisTriants says:

      He has slowed down, but he’s still our biggest offensive threat night-after-night. It’s a good thing a few other players came alive during this recent stretch, though. Tavares hasn’t carried us, but the team still wins when he registers at least one point.

      I think the entire season he’s tried to do too much with the puck. He tries to skate through two or three defenders. He’s scored more goals as a result, but his assists are down. I agree that he needs another winger (Boyes is inconsistent), but I don’t know if we’re going to get it over the summer unless Boyes is let go.

      I think the Isles make a trade this summer, though. I guess we shall see.

      Thanks for the comment.