John Tavares Set For Breakout Year

Saying that John Tavares will have a breakout season when he recently became a Hart Trophy finalist and has scored 249 points in 291 played NHL games in just four seasons might sound a bit ridiculous. But it very well may be true (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).

Tavares was just one point shy in each of the past two seasons from establishing himself as an official point-per-game player (47 in 48 games in 2013, 81 in 82 games in 2012). He also has only eclipsed the 30 goal mark once, scoring 31 in 2012 with a whopping 50 assists to go along with his scoring touch.

With all of that being said, it is very possible that John Tavares still has not reached his full potential.

Earlier this week, the 22-year old center was named the 14th captain in Islanders history. Giving him this responsibility is not only an honor for the young forward, but also an indication of the direction the team is heading with him at the front line.

He is also likely going to make the Team Canada roster for this year's Olympic games, making this a big year for the Isles star. Tavares has thrived during international play in the past, having won the World Junior MVP and World Junior Top Forward award in 2009 and being named to the 2009 World Junior All-Star Team as well.

Playing with other superstars like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Steve Stamkos will make Team Canada a serious threat. Although most Isles fans will be rooting for Team USA, it will certainly be fun to see what John Tavares will do on the international stage at the Olympic level.

His previous statistical numbers indicate that he is ready for this abundance of responsibility. Over the years, Tavares has thrived under pressure and is one of the major reasons why other teams and NHL fans have begun to take the New York Islanders more seriously.

He has also grown as a person, exuberating with the maturity of a seasoned veteran which not only makes him a leader on the ice, but off the ice as well.

With his numbers constantly on the rise, it is very reasonable to expect a 40-goal season out of Tavares with 90 points or better to round out his regular season play.

And if this is to happen, Tavares might finally move himself ahead of the pack for MVP honors.

Being an 80-point player is not a disappointing stat for the Isles star center, but his progress over the years, combined with his reluctant work ethic and hunger for success makes for an equation that ends with even better results.

And like Tavares, the Islanders should only continue to improve with every year that passes with him at the helm.

We're about to watch a new NHL captain, a new Olympic star, enter a new NHL season. This could very well be the breakout year for John Tavares that Islanders fans have been waiting for despite all of his great years.

-Rob McGowan