A New-Look Toronto Maple Leafs Captain
John Tavares has been an exceptional player since signing a seven-year, $11 million AAV contract back in the summer of 2018. During his tenure with the Leafs, Tavares has been a solid contributor. He has scored 119 goals and 274 total points in 280 games, putting him just shy of being a point-per-game player. He was also named captain ahead of the 2019-20 campaign. Tavares has been a solid leader both on and off the ice and will continue to make an impact on the team in this upcoming season.
However, there’s reason to believe that Toronto could see a new John Tavares when they take to the ice in October.
A Healthy Summer
The 2021-22 season was a positive one for the Toronto Maple Leafs captain, seeing him score 27 goals and provide 76 total points in 79 regular season games. He also added six points (three goals, three assists) in seven playoff games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He was exceptionally effective in the face-off circle. Tavares helped his team to regain possession of the puck with an astonishing career-high 60.6% success rate. Tavares also showed a willingness to put his body on the line. He recorded another career record, 90 hits – his previous highest being 59 in his debut season in Toronto.
All of this was achieved despite not being able to train fully during the off-season after the awful injury suffered in game one of the playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens in the 2021 playoffs. This time around, Tavares entered the summer fully healthy. With no rehabilitation limiting his off-season training, Tavares can look to improve certain aspects of his game. With a full off-season to work on his game, Tavares could bring even more to the Leafs this season.
Not only is Tavares entering the new season healthier, but it appears that the Leafs captain is working on adding a new dimension to his game – speed. Per the Toronto Star, Tavares has been working with the Leafs’ development staff to become leaner and improve his skating speed. Tavares has always been a solid and consistent goalscorer in the league. The only time he failed to score 20 goals was the Covid-shortened 2021 season. Still, he was able to put up 19 goals and 50 total points in 56 games.
His goal-scoring touch will always be his bread and butter in the league but adding another dimension to his game will only increase his effectiveness on the ice. Tavares was never known for his skating ability but he has been able to get by so far. However, in a league that is continually getting faster, Tavares is trying to maintain his effectiveness as he starts to become ‘hockey’ old. While adding speed at the age of 32 is unlikely, Tavares is trying to keep pace by adding quickness.
With all things told, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain should have yet another strong season. With another strong season will continue to dismiss any naysayers over the status of his hefty $11 million cap hit.
Introducing the 25th captain of your Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tavares! #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 2, 2019