After a brief Stamkos vs. Tavares discussion, Laidlaw looks at Eric Staal vs. Anze Kopitar
I recently asked for suggestions for my next Cage Match article. From the sounds of it you guys really, really, really want to see a Steven Stamkos vs. John Tavares matchup. Here's the problem – it's too damned simple. Seriously, the only acceptable answer is Stamkos. I get that Tavares has similarly great pedigree and is really starting to shine but to this point Stamkos has a far better track record of NHL production. Why go out on a limb?
Is the argument for Tavares really that he hasn't had anything resembling a good teammate because that I just don't see it as viable. Tavares didn't just turn Matt Moulson into a three-time 30-goal-scorer overnight. Moulson produces consistently at that level because he is good and he's not even the only quality player on Long Island – Mark Streit anyone?
You could certainly argue that Martin St. Louis is better than any teammate that Tavares has had and that St. Louis has boosted Stamkos' numbers a bit but it's not like the lineup in Tampa Bay is so much more stacked than it is in New York. And does St. Louis appear to be slowing down any time soon?
I can't wrap my mind around it. Even with Tavares having arguably his best pro season he still sits well behind Stamkos in the scoring race and Tavares is doing so with an unusually high shooting percentage of 17.3%. Sure, that's what Stamkos shoots on a yearly basis but Tavares is a career 12.6% shooter so what happens when the bubble bursts?
The worst part of all this is that you can't even argue that Tavares has higher upside. Really, you think he does? Where is this mystical fairy unicorn and how much does it cost to ride? If Tavares had higher upside you'd think he'd get around to getting to it at some point. I know he's only 22 but this is already his fourth year in the league. Stamkos is just seven months older and he's already done bigger and better things on multiple occasions.