Will Toronto Maple Leafs Captain John Tavares Make the Hall of Fame?

John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs jumped at the opportunity to sign John Tavares in 2018. At the time, it was the biggest acquisition in hockey.

Everyone knew then that the Toronto Maple Leafs had just added a star.

The question is whether that star has shone and continues to shine bright enough to be remembered and honoured in the most hallowed hall of the sport.

Tavares will be eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after he's been retired for a full three seasons. The way he's been playing, there's no indication that the 33-year-old is slowing down so there's no timeline on when he's going to call it a career.

Will Toronto Maple Leafs Captain John Tavares Make the Hall of Fame?

In his early days playing minor hockey, Tavares proved that he was a special talent. He played a year-up in AAA for the Toronto Marlboros in the GTHL. According to Elite Prospects, in U15, he collected 95 goals and 92 assists for a total of 187 points in 90 games.

A year later, while still playing with players a year older than him, he recorded 158 points in 72 games. They came on 91 goals and 67 assists.

Tavares was so good that when he began playing Major Junior in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) granted the then 14-year-old exceptional player status. He was the first to be allowed to enter the league early, something that's only been done five times since, by Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, Shane Wright, and Michael Misa.

Playing Junior hockey just exemplified Tavares' greatness. He was so strong on the puck that it appeared the only time the puck came off his stick was if he wanted to pass or shoot.

Tavares' best season was in his sophomore year where he played 67 games for the Oshawa Generals. That year, he notched 72 goals and 62 assists for a total of 134 points.

Tavares was so dominant that it was never in doubt that he would be the first-overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Years later, the New York Islanders  would still take Tavares with that first pick ahead of Victor Hedman, who went second.

Tavares was excellent in his time with the Islanders. He spent nine years with the organization where he became the franchise's fifth-highest point producer of all-time. Tavares recorded 621 points in his time on the island. They came in 669 contests via 272 goals and 349 assists.

Tavares is now in his sixth-year playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs where he continues to climb in all-time records as well. He surpassed Nazem Kadri's goal total when the team was in Sweden on Nov. 17. Just like he did with the Islanders, Tavares has proven that he is nearly a point-per-game player.

But has Tavares' career been good enough to make the Hall of Fame?

While Tavares has never won the Stanley Cup, he has picked up several individual achievements. They include being named a six-time NHL All-Star (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) In 2010, he was also named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

Playing internationally, Tavares has seen team success. He was part of the IIHF World U20 Championship gold medal teams of 2008 and 2009. With 2012 Team Canada, he captured a Spengler Cup championship, was a member of the 2014 Olympic gold winning team, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey championship roster.

What's missing in all those honours are major NHL awards. Tavares finished third in Hart Trophy voting three times but never came closer than that. He also finished as close as fifth in Calder Trophy voting and eighth in the race for a Selke Trophe.

Without a major individual award and having never won the Stanley Cup, Tavares' chances for the Hall don't look as strong. A Hart Trophy on his mantle would make him a much more viable candidate.

Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Will be Inducted in the Hall of Fame

However, what about his career points? That's where it appears Tavares is giving himself an opportunity.

Let's compare Tavares to a pair of recent Hall of Fame inductees, twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Henrik played 1330 games where he scored 240 goals and added 830 assists for a sum of 1070 points. Daniel played 1306 games, scored 393 goals with 648 assists, which gave him a career total of 1041 points. Tavares is on pace to pass them both.

That same 2022 Hall of Fame class included Daniel Alfredsson, the longtime nemesis of Leafs legend and 2012 inductee Mats Sundin. Alfredsson played 1246 career NHL games.

He scored 444 goals, which Tavares will likely eclipse by the end of this season. Alfredsson also recorded 713 NHL assists, which gave him a total of 1157 career points. That gave him a points-per-game rate of 0.928. Though it dipped from 0.951 from the start of November, Tavares' career points-per-game rate after the first game in December is 0.948. (some stats quanthockey.com).

While it seems Tavares will have enough points to put himself in the same league and even surpass Hall of Famers, there are other credits on his resume that should help. They include being the OHL's all-time leading goal producer. He scored 215 during his time in the league, 17 more goals than Stan Drulia, the next highest scorer.

Tavares is also known for his leadership. He served as the 14th captain in Islanders history from September 2013 until his departure to the Leafs. In October of 2019,Tavares was named the 25th captain in the history of the Maple Leafs. He has proven himself to be a special player with unique qualities.

Considering his resume and point totals, the Toronto native should one day be immortalized as one of hockey's greats. When looking at the Hall of Fame comparable players, there is a very strong case to be made that Tavares will see himself inducted one day.

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There's still a lot more in store for Tavares. Hopefully, he's able to remain in blue and white a while longer and continue to make it clear that his rightful place is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.