Hi James. I know you try to keep your finger on the junior hockey pulse.
Everyone is talking about John Tavares gaining early entry into the NHL draft, but at this point everyone is saying Steven Stamkos is the better prospect. I know you know your junior hockey, so a) who's better and b) why isn't Stamkos on the Super Series team and c) what about this Drew Doughty kid, he looks worthy of the 1st overall pick too
For those not in the know, Steve Stamkos is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 entry draft next summer in Ottawa, while John Tavares is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2009.
And from what I've seen, heard and read over the past year or so, Tavares is the prized pup of the two.
An objective comparison of our younglings: Both are Ontario kids who grew up about 45 minutes apart, with Stamkos coming from the northeast-of-Toronto suburb of Unionville and Tavares from the west-of-Toronto suburb of Oakville. Stamkos is more than seven months older and played last season with a Sarnia Sting team that finished with eight more points than Tavares's Oshawa Generals. (Tavares is also about 20 pounds heavier despite being relatively the same height.)
Tavares had 35 more goals and 42 more points than Stamkos last season in just five more games, and wasn't part of Canada's Under-18 team that went to Finland in April due to the fact the Generals made the second round of the playoffs. The Sting were ousted in Round 1, so off Stamkos went, where he really impressed (leading his team in scoring with 10 points in six games) despite the fact Canada finished fourth.
Even though Tavares would have been the youngest player on that team by more than six months, he was too good for the club, too good to leave off the Stupid Series entry and obviously too good to keep away from this winter's newly minted "Under-20 hockeyfest of moneymaking."
In other words, Phoenix is tanking the wrong season (although perhaps they're aiming for a double shot of awful).
Now, that's not to say Stamkos isn't good, or isn't worthy of the No. 1 overall designation. By all accounts, the 2008 draft is going to be one of the strongest in years, and the top five or six picks are said to all be high quality (Doughty included).
But Tavares is one of those once-in-a-decade types that you can build a franchise around, someone who could be drafted in '09 and playing in the Olympics by February. My only concern is that he's just not playing enough games per year, as an elite 16-year-old should really break the 200-per-season barrier with ease.
More doubleheaders, less human interaction I always say.
The only edge Stamkos has is in skating and five years from now, my guess is this won't be much of a comparison at all.