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John Tavares: Just what is it you do here?

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A performance review for the new guy.

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Recently, we learned that John Tavares can’t park.

With that one flaw revealed, it seemed like a good time to review what he can actually do.

Five-on-Five

On Saturday morning, before any games were played, John Tavares was tied with Alex Ovechkin for most five-on-five goals at 18. Aside from the general desire in hockey land to only and ever see Ovechkin as a power play specialist, Tavares isn’t exactly bad at the power play either, but being tied with Ovechkin in any scoring race is an achievement.

You might ask yourself if he’s just lucky. But while Tavares (and Ovechkin) are scoring over their individual Expected Goals, Tavares is sixth in the NHL by Evolving Hockey’s expected measure with 9.43. So he’s doubled his expected, and sure enough, his shooting percentage is double the expected, but he’s also just really good.

Of course, when you turn your attention to points, the leader board changes to the passing champions who are getting there on assists:

  • Mikko Rantanen - 31
  • Nathan MacKinnon - 29
  • Brayden Point - 29
  • Claude Giroux (wait, what? I thought the Flyers were bad?) - 29
  • Jack Eichel - 29
  • Nikita Kucherov - 29
  • Mitch Marner - 29

Oh, and then John Tavares with 28 five-on-five points.

Since we’re here looking at points, the ultimate in setup man in the NHL is, of course, Mitch Marner with 20 first assists. He’s got four more than number two on the list, Brayden Point, and five more than Mikko Rantanen. And you know why he has so many? Because 11 of those first assists are goals by, guess! John Tavares.

Tavares is only 51st in first assists and he splits his help mostly between Marner, with three goals, and Morgan Rielly with two.

Power Play

On the Leafs, power play goals usually come from Auston Matthews. He has seven, which is 11th league wide. Tavares has five, good for 36th. And for all the talk that the Power Play runs through Mitch Marner, it’s Morgan Rielly who really leads the team in points with 14. Marner has 13, to be fair, and those two are 24th and 26th in the league.

While the Leafs power play is the best in the NHL by overall shot rate (Corsi For per 60 minutes), they aren’t the top scoring power play, mostly because they’re 29th in TOI per game on the man advantage. They are seventh in Goals For per 60 minutes, but overall they’re only 12th in actual goals scored.

All of that really just means that the power play for the Leafs is a team event. But it’s a team that really benefits from having John Tavares on it.

Penalty Kill

There was an attempt to play John Tavares and Mitch Marner on the penalty kill, and one of them got hired and one did not. It’s okay, John, we think we’ll keep you anyway.

All Situations

The Leafs all-situations points race stacks up like this:

Marner: 10 G, 37 A
Rielly: 11 G, 29 A
Tavares: 23 G, 15 A

Then some other guys like Matthews, Kapanen and Kadri.

You know, while we are here, let’s talk about Morgan Rielly. He doesn’t discriminate in all-situations play; he has assisted on 10 goals for Tavares and 10 for Matthews. At five-on-five, it skews to Tavares with seven goals to four for Matthews. I mention this only to say that it sure looks to me like this is the top unit on the Leafs:

Morgan Rielly - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman - Ron Hainsey

John Tavares is so good, one of his wingers isn’t really a forward, and his line dominates on the ice.

And that’s what John Tavares does around here.