The New York Islanders had a busy offseason losing three big assets and bringing in another three during free agency. Does John Tavares finally get his much-anticipated partner?
The Golden State Warriors have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The Dallas Stars have Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The Blackhawks have Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. The New York Islanders have John Tavares and…well he doesn’t have that symbiotic partner.
Which has been something of a big deal for fans, and understandably so. Our franchise player hasn’t had a partner to feed off of his entire career. He hasn’t had that great wingman to bolster his skills and even take some of the load off his shoulders.
Instead, Tavares has been left to his own devices up on that top line. Kyle Okposo was for a while on that top line last season, but he’s moved to Buffalo in free agency. Ryan Strome was there two years ago and look how he fared away from Tavares.
To Tavares’ credit, it hasn’t hindered him. Eighty-six points two seasons ago and 70 just this past season. It must be tiring carrying this team the way he does.
Through free agency, Garth Snow sought to remedy this when he made the big money acquisition of former Winnipeg Jets captain, Andrew Ladd.
Going into 2016-17, it’s widely expected that Ladd will sit on the left wing of Tavares’ first line. Anything can obviously happen, but it would be naive to believe that Ladd would start anywhere but on that first line. And it’s likely where we see him play for the remainder of the year.
He and John Tavares are going to be given the time to gel and form a partnership. You won’t see Ladd bounce from the first to the second line depending on the day. His role is to be that partner for Tavares.
For a while we were seeing the opposite of this happen with Kyle Okposo, playing intermittently on either first or second lines. Tavares and Okposo weren’t given the proper chance to create that partnership. Ladd and Tavares will.
It’s an important development in the make-up of this team. Tavares and Ladd will anchor that first line. And Ryan Strome will be given the second line to prove that he is indeed that 50 point player we saw back in 2014-15.
We have the talented veterans at the top, lead by an elite talisman in John Tavares. The talented youth rearguard will be given significant ice time on that second line. No longer is it John Tavares up-top with whoever is currently producing followed by Frans Nielsen and his band of random cohorts.
This is a great development for the Islanders. Why it took so long nobody knows. Though it’s unfortunate that we lost Kyle Okposo in the process. The importance of all of this is that Tavares will get his winger.