Where Does John Tavares Rank?

Before I begin with this post I would just like to apologize to The Checking Line, The Checking Line - Isles Edition and the Isles staff for my lack of posts in the last month or so.

I graduated college in May 2012 and have been looking for a job in the journalism field ever since. It was pretty hard finding a job, especially after having ACL surgery in June, which left me in bed till about July.

Anyway, I finally got a job as a sports editor at the daily newspaper, The Register Citizen in Torrington, CT, in January. I quickly gathered my things and moved back up to Connecticut, where I went to college. It took me a while to get acclimated and settled with my work, new schedule and my living arrangements.

It was a quick process that happened very fast and I am sorry but I had to put The Checking Line on the back burner for a little bit. But don't worry I am now back. I hope that you all understand and I want to thank everyone for their patience.

Let's jump right in to my post shall we?

John Tavares, the former 1st overall pick in the 2009 draft and current savior of the Islanders franchise... where does he rank right now on the list of the best players in the game?

The league right now is filled with a ton of great players and I for one believe that Tavares fits right in with them. (Photo Credit: AP Images).

Tavares plays with one of the least talented lineups in the NHL; often if the Islanders are going to win a game Tavares will have to score two to three points on his own. Just look at Saturday's Devils game.

Because of this, teams plan their defensive strategy around him and he still beats them every time he steps on the ice.

During last nights Devils game, MSG posted this stat (Photo Credit: MSG and Pat Scudiero's Facebook):

Since last season, Tavares is only behind, last years Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos who has been the best goal scorer in the NHL since his second season. 

Claude Giroux and Ilya Kovalchuk are also on this list.

What do all four of those players have in common?

They have all played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they all play with other All-Star players surrounding them.

Malkin plays with Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Kris Letang just to name a few. Stamkos plays alongside Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier. Giroux gets to play with Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere.

Do you see my point yet? Tavares took a ninth round draft pick who only sniffed a little bit of the NHL, and turned him into a three-time 30 goal scorer. PA Parenteau was also an AHL all-star who never got a chance with the Rangers and now he is making four million dollars a year in Colorado after playing with Tavares the past two years.

The move to let Parenteau go did not go over well with many Islanders fans. They thought that Parenteau was an assist God and so much of a great player that Tavares' game would take a step back without him.

Well Garth Snow went out and signed former 40-goal scorer Brad Boyes to a one-year deal. Now Boyes, who was buried on the bench in Buffalo for only scoring 23 points last year (and only eight goals), has 12 points in 14 games and four goals already this year.

Coincidence? I think not.

Last year Tavares scored 81 points in all 82 games, finishing tied for seventh in the league with James Neal and Henrik Sedin. At the beginning of this season, with the NHLPA being locked out by the owners, Tavares went over to play in Switzerland.

In 28 games playing in the Swiss A League, Tavares scored 42 points, 17 goals and 25 assists. That is 1.5 points a game. (Photo Credit: NY Post)

Some players needed to shake off some rust from the lockout, regardess of whether they were playing or not. But not Tavares.

He jumped out of the gate and through 14 games sits sixth in the NHL in points with 20. He is 28th in assists with nine and is tied for second in goals with 11.

For those trying to do the math for how many points he is on pace for this season, don't worry I will do it for you.

Tavares is currently set to score 68 points in the NHL's 48 game schedule for this season. For those who want to know how that would translate in an 82 game schedule, he would be looking at 117 points. By last season's standards, Tavares would have led the NHL in points by eight.

I am not trying to say that Tavares will keep up this pace, but don't be surprised if he does. He has the ability to take over games. Last night in three minutes he scored two goals and an assist as well.

This kid is for real and it's about time that fans throughout the NHL learn about him and take note. By the end of this season Tavares should be in the conversation when you sit at the bar and argue with your friends about who is the best player in the game.

Until we meet again.

-Pete Paguaga
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