The Morning Skate for August 12th

Kevin Schultz

By far, the question that I’ve been asked the most since the season ended has been “when will the Islanders name John Tavares captain?”

With minimal free agent moves made this summer and the team looking to build from within, Tavares’ captaincy has been the prime focus for a lot of fans. It certainly seems like a ‘when’ more than an ‘if’. The other candidates would likely be Travis Hamonic or Kyle Okposo. They play with a lot of fire and have both been known to wear their emotions on their sleeves. But with Mark Streit gone the biggest leader, sometimes doing so by emotion and much more often leading by example, has been Tavares. He’s the face of the franchise and the best player on the roster. There really shouldn’t be any other choice.

On Saturday, Arthur Staple noted that it won’t be anyone other than Tavares:

Nothing has been announced, but those around the Isles have given every indication that Tavares, who turns 23 on Sept. 20, will be named the 14th captain in Islanders history sometime around the start of training camp next month.

As far as the timing, it won’t be until at least training camp. It may be announced that the onset, or there may be some delay as players are sometimes asked to “earn” the ‘C’. But Tavares already has, whether it plays out that way or not.

 

Is Taylor Cammarata a ‘Moneyball’ Pick?

The term Moneyball gets thrown around a lot in sports, usually to describe a player that was chosen for certain statistics that stuck out about them rather than what a scout saw in them. But generally, it has to do with a team acquiring a player who they think is an undervalued asset, which is a way of exploiting an inefficiency in a given marketplace wherever that marketplace may be. ‘Moneyball’ gets thrown around a lot, but that’s what people mean when they say it.

Taylor Cammarata, the Islanders third round pick this past June, has gotten some hype on Twitter and around the local blogosphere for being a dark horse, surprise pick. I’ll stay away from that type of talk until I’ve seen actually seen him play but today, it’s interesting to note that someone outside of the local area is seeing good value in the pick.

Arik Parnass, who writes for SB Nation’s Canadiens blog, thinks Cammarata is a slick money ball pick from Garth Snow:

What is so special about this guy? Well, he outscored Sidney Crosby in high school at Shattuck St. Mary’s as a 15-year old, with 170 points in 58 games, and then last year led the USHL in scoring with 93 points in 59 games. By all accounts his vision and hockey IQ are exceptional, and he has a nose for the net. His biggest weakness besides his size is his average skating.

Maybe Taylor Cammarata will go the way of Corey Locke and never overcome his size disadvantage in the NHL. Or maybe he’ll add to the growing list of players that teams undervalue because of their size and go onto become a star like Claude Giroux and Martin St. Louis.

Maybe if it’s the latter, it will finally lead the hockey world to recognize Garth Snow as the innovator that he is, and the guy other GMs should look to follow.

 

Tavares on Growing Up with Gagner

Captain-to-be John Tavares grew up neighbors with Oilers forward Sam Gagner in Oakville, Ontario. CBS caught up with Tavares, who spoke about playing on outdoor rinks with another future NHLer:

“His dad had built a beautiful backyard rink in his yard, so I was over there three, four days a week and countless hours. On Saturdays, we would practice together on our minor hockey team. We’d head straight to his backyard from noon to eight, nine o’clock — couldn’t feel you fingers, couldn’t feel your toes.”

It was in the backyard rinks and ponds of Ontario that Tavares fell head over heels in love with the sport of hockey.

“Those days are when you really developed your skills and your passion and love for the game,” Tavares said. “Those are great times and great memories you’ll never forget.”