When a franchise drafts a player that can turn woes and failure into promising things, it’s tough to see that player leave for a different team. That’s exactly what happened to the New York Islanders. Tomorrow night the Islanders will host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Long Island, and it will be the fist time that John Tavares will back since his departure for Toronto. The Isles selected Tavares number 1 overall in the 2009 draft, which is where he spent his first 9 seasons in the NHL. In his 669 games as an Islander Tavares amassed 621 points, (272 goals and 349 assists) and was their captain from the 2013- 18 seasons and leading them into the playoffs 3 times during his time there. Though the appearances weren’t what the Isles expected they had a foundation being built around their star forward.
This past off-season was a gut wrenching loss for Long Island as their franchise player chose to leave for his hometown team that he grew up watching, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares was lured by a 7 year $77 million contract offer, (hard to say no to that), to play with the likes of up and coming superstar Auston Matthews, and other players like Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and William Nylander. All who are major pieces for the Leafs, and still very young compared to other teams in the league right now. For now it seems to be the right choice, in 37 games so far Tavares has 42 points, (24 goals and 18 assists) and is on pace to set a career high in goals which he set in 2014-15 with 38. He skates with one of the most dangerous power play units in the league today, and one of the most talented teams in the league now.
As of now the Leafs are 2nd in the Atlantic division only trailing Tampa Bay by 6 points in the standings. They have the 3rd best goal differential with a +37 and play good at home (12-5-1) and on the road (13-5-1). The Leafs have set themselves up nicely for the playoff spot thus far and continue to be successful in all aspects of their game. Even though they would still say there’s always room for improvement which all teams will say. With a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Babcock running things, and a roster full of young core guys with a mix of veteran talent the time is now with the window wide open to win a Stanley Cup. That window will be wide open for the next few seasons and I’ll be expecting the Leafs to only add to their roster for success.
It isn’t always a guarantee that a Stanley Cup will come because you have a good roster. Many things come into play, being lucky is a big part of that. Good play, offensively and defensively, making proper adjustments during the game. Which is why it’s a good thing to have Babcock as bench boss, because he’s been there done that. There are alot of good teams in the east that can be a measuring stick for how good the Leafs really are, and as the season is almost halfway through the leafs to me are going to have some great years in the future!