Tavares defines Most Valuable Player

By: Tim Kolupanowich

@TimKolupan_

John Tavares means as much to his team as any other player in the league whether he wins the Hart Trophy or not. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

John Tavares means as much to his team as any other player in the league whether he wins the Hart Trophy or not. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

The Hockey News and Yahoo! NHL have been discussing the awards candidates this year and recently named their best and most valuable players of the season, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin respectively. They made the distinction between the two critical aspects of Hart Trophy voting which, unless they create another award, will always be up in argument as to which is the most important.

The Hart Trophy would almost assuredly go to Sergei Bobrovsky, but as Greg Wyshynski points out, making the playoffs is a major factor to many voters. From Whyshynski:

There was one player in the NHL this season whose 
performance was the embodiment of what a most valuable player should be. That person is Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Too bad he can’t wear the crown. Through no fault of his own, Bobrovsky’s team didn’t make the playoffs and thus I can’t in good faith bestow the MVP upon him. They play the regular season to make the post-season; a player whose performance elevates his team to that ultimate goal carries more value than one that does not.

So with Bobrovsky out of the picture, it leaves the usual suspects of Crosby and Ovechkin to spar for the trophy along with John Tavares , the still underappreciated star center of the New York Islanders.

Tavares is everything expected from a Hart Trophy candidate from being one of the best players by being a leading scorer and making the playoffs while also meaning the most to his team by doing the most with the least and staying healthy.

Tavares was third with 28 goals this season and 17th with 47 points and with his effort the Islanders were able to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, so he was clearly one of the best players. He also had significant value to his team, not only are there no other big names on the Islanders, he supplied the majority of their offense. Here are the top five players with the highest percentage of their teams’ goals:

  • Alex Ovechkin: 21.92% (32 of 146)
  • John Tavares: 20.74% (28 of 135)
  • Jeff Carter: 19.84% (26 of 131)
  • Steven Stamkos: 19.73% (29 of 147)
  • Jiri Tlusty: 18.11% (23 of 127)

As well as the five who finished the furthest ahead of their teammates:

  • John Tavares had 75% more goals than Michael Grabner (28 to 16)
  • Steven Stamkos had 71% more goals than Martin St. Louis (29 to 17)
  • Alex Ovechkin had 68% more goals Andrew Brouwer (32 to 19)
  • Jakub Voracek had 46% more goals than Wayne Simmonds (22 to 15)
  • Jeff Carter had 44% more goals than Dustin Brown (26 to 18)

New York needed everyone of Tavares’ goals as their points percentage was far different when he scored and when he was held off the scoresheet and they made the playoffs by just four points. The Islanders had a .696 points percentage in games he scored, but only had a .460 pts. % when he didn’t score a goal and a .342 pts. % when he didn’t register a point. Clear value to his team is evident, even if Washington’s numbers were more polarizing when Ovechkin scored. They had a .854 pts. % when he recorded a goal, but slipped down to a .354 pts. % when he didn’t and .281 pts. % when he failed to register a point at all.

Unfortunately he may not have finished with a high enough number of overall points. True, 35 of the 69 Hart Trophy winners since the Original Six era started in in 1942-43 finished in the top three in the NHL in goals as tavares did this year, but only one has finished the season ranked lower in points than Tavares this year. Tavares was 17th with 28-19-47 in 48 games which, despite everything else he has going for him, make just keep him from winning. Here are the Hart Trophy winners who have ranked the lowest in scoring since 1942-43:

  • Chris Pronger, 1999,2000: 49th – 14-48-62
  • Babe Prat, 1943-44: 13th – 17-40-57
  • Ted Kennedy, 1954-55: 11th – 10-42-52
  • Gordie Howe, 1956-60: sixth – 28-45-73
  • Bobby Clarke, 1974-75: sixth – 27-89-116
  • Mark Messier, 1991-92: sixth – 35-72-107

None of the other 57 winners (not including the six times it was won by a goalie), finished lower than fifth and 50 were among the top two.

Of course this is to say Tavares isn’t deserving of a Hart Trophy nomination, just it’s unlikely he’ll take it home. He means everything to the Islanders and by the time they move to Brooklyn he’ll be leading a solid group deep into the playoffs. He got them into the playoffs where, aside from Game 1, they stayed with the Penguins and made it a close series, so there’s plenty to look forward to in the upcoming years.

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