John Tavares was named the NHL’s first star of the week today after a week that saw the Islander captain tally 4 goals and 6 assist in four games, including a five point performance last Monday against the Dallas Stars in which JT recorded a hat trick.
During that performance, and during his post game on-ice interview, the 23 year old former first overall pick was serenaded by the Islander faithful with chants of “MVP! MVP!”, which has become somewhat of a staple at the Old Barn since the end of last season.
It’s time to start thinking about the validity of the fan base’s praise.
Tavares currently ranks tied for second in the entire league in points (the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane also has 56), trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Sidney Crosby . He sits tied for ninth in goals with 21 and sits alone in fifth in assists with 35 helpers.
There is no debate that he is the Islanders MVP, he is head and shoulders above all of his teammates; which, ultimately, could cost him a chance at an award he very well may deserve. The Islanders currently sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division, and seven points out of a playoff spot. That is not an insurmountable deficit with this much time remaining in the season, but it will be very difficult for the Isles to leap over that many teams in the standings and claim a playoff position, especially given how well the entire conference is playing right now (no team in the East has a sub .500 record in their last ten games). Individual awards should never be based upon the success, or failure, of an entire team but voters have a hard time justifying selecting a player from a last place franchise to be the league’s MVP, even if that player is deserving.
To me JT is the most indispensible player to his franchise of anyone in the entire league. Isn’t that the definition of “Most Valuable”? I have seen Pittsburgh thrive without Crosby on the ice, and Kane plays on a loaded Chicago roster; would anyone debate that the Isles would have been dead and buried a long time ago if it weren’t for their captain?
The Isles are on a 5-1 in January and it should be of no surprise to anyone that Tavares getting red hot has coincided with the team performing well. Since the New Year Tavares has notched 12 points in six games.
If the Isles fail to make the playoff’s there’s no chance Tavares will come home with any hardware at season’s end, but if this team can rally and make a playoff appearance then Tavares should be rewarded for carrying this franchise with some serious MVP consideration.