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Maple Leafs Career Spotlight: John Tavares vs. 2023-24 Season

John Tavares has been with the Toronto Maple Leafs for six seasons now. What are his career highlights? What makes him such a good player?

John Tavares was born on September 20, 1990, in Mississauga, Ontario. When he was young, he lived and breathed the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yet, he was drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and played much of his career with that team. Over his time in the NHL, he has established himself as one of the premier centers in the game. He finally became a member of his beloved Maple Leafs in the 2018 offseason.

Throughout his career, Tavares has not only met but exceeded the expectations placed upon him. He’s been a scorer and a solid playmaker; as well, he’s also taken a leadership role with the teams he’s played with. 

John Tavares NHL Maple Leafs

Tavares became the 14th captain in Islanders history on September 9, 2013. He held that role until he left the Islanders and joined the Maple Leafs in the 2018-19 NHL season. During his time with the Islanders, Tavares was a central figure both on and off the ice, providing leadership and contributing significantly to the team’s success. His leadership qualities have been evident, he also has been the captain of the Maple Leafs since the 2018-19 season.

An Analysis of Tavares’ Career Statistics

Over Tavares’ career, he’s been a consistent point producer. During his tenure with the Islanders (2009-2018), he steadily improved his point production, becoming a key scorer on that team. His notable seasons include 2011-12 (with 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points) and 2014-15 (with 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points), which was his best season with the Islanders. 

Related: Canucks and Maple Leafs Take 7 of Final 12 All-Star Spots

After Tavares’ move to the Maple Leafs for the 2018-19 season, he not only maintained his high-level performance but also showed his adaptability and continued improvement. In his first season with the Maple Leafs, he had the best season of his career when he put up 47 goals and added 41 assists (for 88 points). 

John Tavares’ 2023-24 Season Highlights

Tavares is aging, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down. That’s evident given his season’s highlights. 

Highlight One: Tavares’ Game-Winning Overtime Goal Against Tampa Bay (October 2023)

Now at the age of 33, Tavares continues to be a solid clutch player. In late October, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Tampa Bay, giving his team a 4-3 victory. This game-winner marked the continuation of a five-game point streak, where he accumulated two goals and seven assists. He began the season on a roll, and his offensive impact was noticeable early in the season.

It seemed clear Tavares was set to have a strong season. He’s slowed some since, but he’s more than capable of being a contributor on a regular basis.

Highlight Two: Power-Play Goal and Two Assists in Victory Over the Ducks (January 2024) 

In a remarkably tough game this season when it looked like Ducks goalie Lukas Dostal had his team’s number, Tavares came through by scoring a power-play goal to push the game into overtime when the Maple Leafs won. It was a huge goal for his team.

Dostal appeared poised to secure the NHL record for the most saves in a shutout victory. However, on Toronto’s fifth power play of the game, Tavares cracked the 23-year-old netminder’s defense, capitalizing on a rebound and notching his 12th goal of the season.

Highlight Three: Tavares Reaches 1000-Point Plateau

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the season came in December when Tavares registered his 1,000 career point against the same Islanders that he had played for so many seasons. It was a memorable night against his former team; and, Tavares scored a goal and added an assist to reach that significant milestone of 1,000 career points. [See his teammates congratulating him below.]

In short, Tavares’ 2023-24 season has been marked by milestone achievements, clutch performances, and a consistent ability to contribute offensively. The bottom line is that Tavares continues to be a key player for the Maple Leafs.

What Has Made Tavares Such a Great Hockey Player?

Tavares has established himself as a great hockey player through a combination of prolific goal-scoring, exceptional leadership, adaptability, and sustained elite play. His ability to consistently reach the 30-goal mark shows his remarkable offensive skills and he’s been a reliable and dynamic goal-scorer throughout his career.

Beyond his goal-scoring prowess, Tavares has become a leader on and off the ice. Tavares served as the captain of both the Islanders and the Maple Leafs. In that role, he has shown his ability to guide and inspire his teammates. 

In addition, Tavares’ elite performance over the years has solidified his status as a solid asset in the NHL. His consistent ability to deliver high-level play season after season shows his dedication to excellence as a professional hockey player. He’s left (and is continuing to make) an indelible mark in the NHL.

Related: Maple Leafs Highlights: One-Hand Holmberg & Amazing Matthews

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