Born September 20, 1990 (age 20) in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada
Center for the New York Islanders
John Tavares is two years younger than me, yet he has notched some pretty impressive achievements even though he is not legally able to buy alcohol in America yet. Tavares was selected first overall in the 2009 draft by the Islanders, but his journey starts with getting “exceptional player” status at age 14, allowing him early entry into the OHL. Because he was able to get into the OHL early, this led to unsuccessful attempts to have the AHL accept him as a 17-year-old and then a failed bid for him to participate in the 2008 NHL draft. In 2007, he broke Wayne Gretzky’s OHL record of the most goals a season. When finally drafted by the NHL, he’d been ranked at the very top by both scouting services. By that time, he’d also brought home two World Juniors gold medals for Canada!
In July 2009, Tavares signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders and immediately went to work, earning himself pretty high compliments from teammate Doug Weight, who said “John’s going to be a big piece of [an Islander rebuilding effort].” Not bad. In his rookie year, he scored five consecutive goals in four games to tie the club’s record for most consecutive goals by a player. He had his first career hatty in October 2010, adding another (a natural hatty) in January 2011. He’s also continued his streak of representing Canada in international events, although now they’re on the senior level. Last year, he was one of five teenagers on the Canadian Worlds team. He led all tournament players in goal scoring and Canada went all the way to the quarterfinals against Russia. This year, he repped for Canada again in Slovakia, doing even better than last year and once again visiting the quarterfinals against Russia. His coaches picked him as one of the best players on Team Canada, along with Alex Pietrangelo and Andrew Ladd. Very nice! This past season, he played 79 games, scoring 29 goals, 38 assists and having 53 penalty minutes. I think Weight’s assertion of Tavares’ role is pretty accurate.