May 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) carries the puck up ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

John Tavares Is All Hart : Named Finalist For Award

Apr 18, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) during the pre game warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports


Middletown, N. J. – The New York Islanders have a budding superstar on their hands. One who has committed to the organization by signing a long-term contract and remains the cornerstone of what the franchise is accomplishing at the moment. His name is John Tavares.

Make no mistake, win or lose in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders have reemerged on the NHL scene and are making noise. Stretching this series to a sixth game being played tomorrow night at Nassau Coliseum is more than anyone would have ever imagined when they wallowed at 8-11-1 to end February.

And with the best prospects coming up through the system in Bridgeport as early as next year, Islanders fans are finally starting to see how a consistent winner can be built by remaining patient, good drafting and some wily moves on the free agent and waiver wire.

But back to Johnny T. In his fourth NHL season, through some dedicated summer routines, he has constantly and consistently raised his game each and every time. Once criticized for his skating, John made that a focus point and all fans, not just from the Island, see the tremendous difference those workouts have bore.

Always known to be deadly around the net in tight, we saw evidence of that with the very first goal he scored in the NHL, against the Penguins back in 2009. Not content however he has even improved his stick handling and shooting skills to match his new found power stride. To take a look at his career stats is to know we have not even seen the ceiling on Tavares and the kind of offensive numbers he can produce…

ear Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM Hits BkS FW FL FO% PPG PPA SHG SHA GW SOG Pct
 2009-10 NYI 82 24 30 54 -15 22 42 28 536 593 .475 11 14 0 0 2 186 .129
 2010-11 NYI 79 29 38 67 -16 53 22 23 693 626 .525 9 15 0 0 4 243 .119
 2011-12 NYI 82 31 50 81 -6 26 27 23 814 772 .513 7 18 0 0 8 286 .108
 2012-13 NYI 48 28 19 47 -2 18 33 22 459 471 .494 9 7 0 0 5 162 .173

Every single offensive category is up and the plus/minus. which will forever be a love/hate statistic, is down. Just about the only thing that jumps out as needing work this off-season is in the faceoff circle. I can almost guarantee those numbers will improve as well.

As far as opposition for the award, the three finalists are Tavares, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

From the perspective of what the award truly means and it’s definition : “Awarded to the player judged most valuable to his team”, a strong argument can be made that Crosby does not deserve the trophy. Yes his offensive numbers are sublime, with 15-41-56 in just 36 games. But the Penguins also went 9-4-0 without him in the lineup after he suffered a broken jaw and did not seem to miss a beat. The flip side of that coin is that he should not be punished by the fact that his teammates rallied in his absence.

Alex Ovechkin is the most serious challenger to JT winning the award in the mind of the staff here at EyesOnIsles. He single handily carried the Capitals to the postseason, collecting 23 goals in his last 22 games and winning the Rocket Richard trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer with 32 in just 48 games. All without nearly the supporting cast that Crosby had.

With that being said, showing some true objectivity if you will, who is your choice as the Hart Trophy winner for 2012-2013? Also feel free to discuss in the comments section.

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