Can you believe that every team has completed at least two-thirds of their regular season schedule? The trade party has already started and we're just a few weeks away from the Olympic break. The season is moving fast. It's probably moving too fast for some of the league's newcomers.
On Long Island, for example, 2009 top draft pick John Tavares is mired in a lengthy scoring slump. In his last 24 games, Tavares has managed just two goals and four assists while playing to a minus-9 rating. By comparison, in his first 32 games, he'd totaled 15 goals and 12 assists, skating to a minus-1 mark.
I certainly don't mean to pick on Tavares. I have little doubt he's going to develop into one of the league's top goal-scorers. It's just a reminder that the NHL is a tough league. It's a tough league for veterans, no less teenage rookies. I'll be curious to watch Johnny T work down the stretch. The last third of his first season will be a terrific challenge for him. He's a sharp young guy who's real easy to root for. For now, though, Tavares has slid out of my Calder Watch top five.
To see Hradek's rookie rankings, plus see why the only person who can trip up the success of draft prospect Emerson Etem may be E.J. Hradek, you must be an ESPN Insider.