Friday, August 10, 2007

John Tavares: The "Exceptional Player"

John Tavares. No, I’m not talking about the lacrosse legend, but rather his nephew, the projected-to-be hockey legend.

Tavares is just 16 years old and already the star of the CHL. Two years ago, he was permitted to enter the OHL at age 14, thanks to being classified as an ‘exceptional player’. In only his second year, this centre for the Oshawa Generals had 134 points and scored 72 goals, enough to break a record set by Wayne Gretzky.

The interesting story about Tavares may not be his hockey skills, but rather his draft status. Since he was born on September 20th, 1990, NHL rules dictate that he is eligible for the 2009 draft. His agent, however, is looking into the possibility of Tavares being drafted in 2008 since he was drafted into the OHL a year early.

There are many reasons why Tavares should be allowed to enter the draft in 2008. Because he entered the OHL early, he will have played 4 years in the league by the time he is drafted in 2009. Some people look at how well he is doing now, and how quickly he is developing, and they begin to wonder if he will soon outgrow the CHL and cause a stall in his development.

I, however, do not believe that Tavares should be allowed to enter the draft early. Not all players will be thrilled to see Tavares receive special treatment from the NHL because he is a good player. I believe that this special treatment will make Tavares a target, and this may hurt him. In addition, he will be expected to have an outstanding season, and should he fall short of being ‘outstanding’, who knows what will come his way. He already has so much pressure placed on his shoulders; why add to it?

In the meantime, Tavares still has to prove that he is the player worthy of the “Mike Bossy” comparisons. He will have to improve on his 2006-07 stats for the upcoming season, or suffer the same fate as Angelo Esposito. In the immediate future, he must have a strong showing at this summer’s Canada Russia Super Series to show that he can succeed in a tournament comprised of mostly 18- and 19-year-old players. He must also make the squad for the 2008 World Junior Championships and find success there. Should he fail to make a great impression, he can kiss his chance at the 2008 draft goodbye.

If only he had been born a week earlier…

1 comment:

Tirzah said...

Keep up the good work.