John Tavares was touted as a generational talent leading up to the 2009 NHL Draft and had an impressive resume that included being granted exceptional player status allowing him to play in the OHL at age 14, dominating the junior level and scoring at approximately a point per game pace in International tournaments. Since joining the Islanders organization, Tavares has continued to be a highly productive player, ranking 7th in the entire league in goals scored (235) and 9th in total points (537).
Tavares has performed very well but not to the hype he generated tearing up Junior hockey. He has only been voted in the top 10 for the Hart Trophy twice (finishing third in both 2012-2013 and 2014-2015) and has been named to just one postseason All-Star team (first team in 2014-2015). Tavares has also seen downfalls at the team level as the Islanders have only qualified for the playoffs in three of Tavares’ eight NHL seasons and made it out of the first round only once.
A lot of Tavares’ shortcomings can be blamed on Islanders’ management for not surrounding him with the players necessary to take the team to the next level. For teams at the bottom of the league, it is crucial to hit on top draft picks in order to restock talent within the organization and build a young core capable of competing for the Stanley Cup further down the road. Let’s look how the Islanders used their top draft picks to supplement Tavares in the lineup.