Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares Is Quietly Having a Great Season

Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

It might not be the most popular opinion but Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is in fact having a great season.

Despite a recent slump, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain is currently operating at a point-per-game pace (17 goals and 42 points in 42 games) while posting a WAR higher than 80% of NHL forwards.  Tavares’ is quietly having a great year, but with Auston Matthews currently on a streak of 24 goals in 23 games, Tavares’ success has gone under the radar.

A 33-goal pace certainly matches his offensive output from back in his days with the New York Islanders. Barring his 47-goal season with Mitch Marner alongside him in the 2018-19 season, it’s right where we’d expect, especially for a player who is not the focal point of the offense.

By averaging a point-per-game (35th in league scoring), being on pace for over 30 goals, posting a 52% expected-goals rating, and giving the Leafs one of the best second-line options in the NHL, Tavares is living up to his contract, regardless of perception.

John Tavares Is Performing As Expected For The Toronto Maple Leafs

He is doing no better or worse in terms of points than when the Leafs signed him. Of course, he wasn’t playing with the same caliber of playmaker on Long Island. With that said, he also was a younger player and hadn’t suffered a pretty nasty head trauma, as he did last season against Montreal. (stats 

He really can be a hard player to judge sometimes, especially given Auston Matthews is earning the same sort of money and is competing for a second Rocket Richard Trophy.  Then again, a comparison may be foolish because one player was getting paid for his future performance, while the other was on the open market after years of being a top player in the league.

Fact is though that John Tavares gives the Leafs one of the best secondary scoring options in the NHL, and having a first line star play on the second line makes the Leafs very hard to play against.  He can be relied upon to go out there with Alex Kerfoot, who himself is impressing, and William Nylander to get the job done. In recent weeks, they’ve not been doing so well, but on the whole, they’ve been a strong line for the team.

Looking purely from a statistical standpoint per Frozen Pool, Tavares is facing the fifth toughest quality competition of anyone on the roster. Only Marner, Bunting, Kase and Kerfoot rank higher with regards to the Quality of Competition relative to Corsi For percentage.

John Tavares isn’t dragging the Toronto Maple Leafs down by any means. It must also be said that point-per-game players aren’t to be sneered at, especially over a whole half-season.

Hopefully, his line can break their recent funk sooner rather than later and get back to their early-season performance level. If they can do that, there’s still a chance at topping the Atlantic Division.

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Now let’s hope he can turn that good season into a great season in the second half of this year.