Helping Tavares take the next step

John Tavares can score, but to be elite, he needs someone to get him the puck

Originally Published: June 14, 2010
By Timo Seppa and E.J. Hradek | Puck Prospectus and ESPN The Magazine
Getty ImagesJohn Tavares needs a passer to complement him.

Plugging Holes - New York Islanders

The Hole: Tavares' present and future linemates

John Tavares may be the king of garbage goals. A lot of players can make a solid NHL career out of having the nose to get to the puck around the net, but it's fair to say that much more was expected of the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft than merely tapping in a bunch of easy goals at the back post.

Not surprisingly, teams learned to defend against what was a one trick pony. After scoring 15 goals in the Islanders' first 31 games, Tavares managed only nine in the remaining 51 games.

While the onus is on the 19-year-old to strengthen himself physically -- and to diversify his game -- the Islanders' immediate need is to help the youngster by pairing him with a skilled passer to assist his still limited game.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.