Let’s Randomly Talk a Bit About Hockey’s Next Big Thing

January 9, 2009 – 1:28 am by TheRiot

This is kind of like ESPN the Magazine’s NEXT series or something. But it’s more random and freewheeling. I’ve just decided to spout on about hockey’s current version of, say, LeBron when he was still in high school.

This young man’s name is John Tavares and he’s considered a front runner to be taken with the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s NHL Draft as a center.

He’s been on the radar, as it usually goes with these things, basically forever. For the sake of this post, let’s just go with the most basic reasons he’s in the news.

– Tavares played for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, which is by many considered the world’s top junior hockey league, from the tender age of 15 years old until yesterday, when the Generals traded him to the London Knights. Tavares is likely to suit up for London against his old team tonight.

– The OHL made him the first-ever player granted “exceptional player” status so he could be drafted at age 14, making him the youngest player ever drafted in the OHL. The cutoff date is usually 16 years old by Dec. 31 of the draft year.

– In his OHL career, he’s won a ton of awards and broken records held by the likes of some guy named Wayne Gretzky, among others. In each of the last two seasons he’s had over 100 points during the regular season.

– During this year’s World Junior Championship held in Ottawa, Tavares led Canada to yet another gold medal. He finished the tournament with eight goals, including a hat trick against Team USA, and seven assists in just six games. He was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

In short, the dude is Canada’s next hero. If there’s anything else you want to know, just go to his Wikipedia page. It tells all.

He’ll be the best player to suit of for London since, probably (bear in mind I’m no expert on the OHL), Patrick Kane did so in the 2006-07 season. That year Kane won the OHL scoring title with 145 points but finished as runner-up in the MVP voting to — you guessed it — Tavares.

Suffice it to say, if you’re into hockey, you alread know who he is. If not, keep an eye out. He’s probably the best thing Canada will be exporting to the U.S. this year. Well, aside from petroleum products.

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