In the second-to-last year of his contract, John Tavares had an off year but still found himself in the second-half of the season.
It’s no secret that the 2016-17 season was an off year for the captain, but then again, with how atrocious the season was for the Islanders in general, considerations have to be taken.
John Tavares tied his second-worst season total with 66 points, and he only played in 59 games that season (2013-14). After a slow start under Jack Capuano, the Islanders managed to pick themselves up under Head Coach Doug Weight with a strong second-half effort, Tavares included.
From October through December, former Head Coach Jack Capuano shuffled Tavares’ linemates more than a pack of cards at a Blackjack table in Atlantic City.
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Andrew Ladd was supposed to fill the role left behind by Kyle Okposo, but it was made perfectly clear by November that it wasn’t meant to be. Hell, even Cal Clutterbuck got a couple of games in alongside Tavares. Yeah, Clutterbuck — the fourth line winger — got a couple of games alongside John Tavares.
Lee ended up scoring 34 goals a career high, and Bailey set career highs in points and assists (56 and 43 respectively). Wingers typically produce with Tavares, sure, but having some consistency on either side helped him settle in and find some great chemistry with his teammates.
Perhaps his inconsistencies can be pointed to the team’s struggles as a whole, perhaps his looming contract can be to blame. Regardless of that, Tavares put up a weak season in comparison to what he’s capable of, and he knows that.
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As will be the case for the entirety of the 2017-18 season, all eyes are on Tavares now that he enters his final season of play.
Not just in terms of free agency, but in the inevitable rebound the captain will have to push as he seeks a new deal worth upwards of $10 million. He knows the New York Islanders will pay what it takes to keep him, but Tavares will want to earn his keep. With some new talent that emerged in Josh Ho-Sang and a reunion with one of his good friends in Jordan Eberle, expect a monster season from Tavares.
It may be a bit of a stretch, and maybe a bit too optimistic, but if the chemistry with Eberle clicks as well as it has, there’s no reason why Tavares can’t return to the 80-point mark again next season, including his first 40-goal season.