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Leafs Tavares building case for best ever season by free-agent signing

Leafs Tavares building case for best ever season by free-agent signing
Published On: Fri, Jan 11
Apr 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The last time theA Toronto Maple LeafsA had a player scoring like this it was the high-flying early a€™90s and everything seemed possible for Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Co.

That ita€™sA John TavaresA helping make believers out of Leafs Nation again is a major coup for an organization which set aside big bucks and significant cap space to bring him home over the summer.

Tavares had already proven himself as one of the better goal-scorers of his generation during nine seasons in Long Island. But after half a year in Toronto, where hea€™s scored 29 times in 43 games, hea€™s building a case to have this considered one of the best seasons by a free-agent signing in NHL history.

a€œHea€™s done nothing but impress me,a€ defencemanA Travis DermottA said after Thursdaya€™s 4-2 win over New Jersey.

The impact Tavares has on the organization runs much deeper than goals, but the Leafs arena€™t paying him $11 million per season for intangibles. Thata€™s why his production has been so important during a 28-13-2 start a€” the NHLa€™s second-best record by percentage of points earned.

Against the Devils, Tavares scored two more times and now trails only Washingtona€™s Alex Ovechkin in that department league-wide. Hea€™d never potted more than 38 in nine seasons as a member of the Islanders and is now on pace for 55.

What stands out is that hea€™s producing more shots on goal than ever before, averaging 3.79 per game after putting six more on Devils goalieA Keith Kinkaid.

a€œI just try to go out there and be as best prepared, be as consistent as I can be,a€ said Tavares. a€œYou know, try to be just hard to defend. Find different ways to produce, not just in certain situations, whether ita€™s around the net, off the cycle, on the rush, on the power play.

Read the complete news article here...

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