Commentary

Why John Tavares is good, not great

Neil Greenberg defends his decision to omit John Tavares from Top 25 Under 25 list

Updated: January 17, 2012, 4:30 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
John TavaresMike Stobe/Getty ImagesJohn Tavares is an All-Star, but was left off Neil Greenberg's Top 25 Under 25 rankings.

When my list of the 25 best players under 25 years old came out this past Wednesday, as you would expect there was some heated debate over some high-profile names left off.

For example, despite their superb rookie campaigns, sophomores Tyler Seguin and Jeff Skinner were nowhere to be found, mostly because one season is not enough to convince me that they are destined for stardom.

Stars-in-the-making Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene were also absent, earning some ire in the comment field. However, the most noteworthy -- and most criticized -- omission was John Tavares of the New York Islanders.

Tavares, at 21 years old, leads the Islanders in scoring for the third straight year with 16 goals and 27 assists in 43 games this season, including a nine-game point streak. He also leads all Islanders forwards in time on ice per game (19:46) and was just selected to the 2011-12 All-Star team, his first appearance.

Bet you didn't know that since the lockout only seven other skaters, in addition to Tavares, have amassed 160 points by age 21. Those seven are Jonathan Toews (No. 1 on my 25 under 25 list), Sidney Crosby (No. 2), Patrick Kane (No. 4), Steven Stamkos (No. 6), Anze Kopitar (No. 8), Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

Courtesy Neil Greenberg

So how can such a talented young player, who has accomplished so much in so little time, be left off a list of the 25 best players under 25 years old? Simple. His performance is not as impressive as it looks.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.