John Tavares Not Ruled Out for Opening Night
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares suffered an oblique injury during training camp and was dealt a three-week timeline for his return to action. Such a timeline eliminated the pivot from playing Toronto’s season-opening contest against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, but, as it turns out, John Tavares may be available after all.
John Tavares sustained the injury during a preseason contest against the Ottawa Senators and his three-week timeline all but eliminated him for his club’s season opener. However. John Tavares resumed skating on Monday and head coach Sheldon Keefe left a season-opening return possible.
“It’s all going to be (based) on his recovery,” Keefe said. “I think it was a really positive day for him today, but the way that it would track out in terms of the plan that was set was that he wouldn’t be available. What his body is telling him is going to dictate that.”
“Whether it’s sooner or ends up being later, it’s all going to be a part of it,” Keefe said. “We’re just going to take it a day at a time with him. Today was a good day for him, but certainly, I’m not expecting him to be full-go at all this week.
John Tavares a Key Cog in the Leafs’ Attack
Earning $11M per annum puts plenty of expectations on any athlete, but John Tavares has been oft-criticized for his seeming lack of production during his Maple Leafs tenure. However, the team’s captain tallied 27 goals and 76 points in 79 games last season while residing as the team’s second-line center behind reigning league MVP Auston Matthews.
All being said, the center should likely be ruled out for any NHL future when it comes to major awards or scoring titles. John Tavares currently sports +10000 odds to win the NHL’s Hart Trophy as league MVP and +15000 odds to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded to the player with the most goals scored. Matthews is the heavy favorite in that department at +190 odds, as per Bovada.
Finally, John Tavares boasts +10000 odds to win the Art Ross Trophy, which is handed to the player that finishes the season with the most points recorded.
With an injury lingering into the season, it’s tough to put much faith into John Tavares’ long-shot odds to win any individual hardware at season’s end.
An Opening-Night Return Aids Leafs’ Moneyline Chances
As it stands right now, the Maple Leafs are heavy -240 favorites to take down the Canadiens in their regular-season opener on Oct. 12. While there might not be much value to back the Leafs at that price, keep in mind Tavares’ potential absence means something in the equation.
At face value, the Maple Leafs should absolutely win their season opener against a Canadiens team coming off a disastrous 2021-22 campaign. However, divisional contests are never easy, and Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis appears to have his team trending in the right direction despite a general lack of talent, more so on the back end.
A Tavares appearance on opening night aids the Leafs’ chances of beginning their season on the right note, but a gut feeling tells me caution prevails ahead of a long, arduous campaign.