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Islanders key player: John Tavares

New York Islanders center John Tavares looks on

New York Islanders center John Tavares looks on against the New Jersey Devils during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The conversation regarding the Islanders' emergence as an elite team in the NHL begins and ends with team captain John Tavares, arguably the best playmaker in the sport, entering this critical first season in Brooklyn.

Tavares, 25, has been a Hart Trophy finalist in two of the past three seasons and finished second in the league with 86 points in 2014-15.

But in order for the Islanders to hang a fifth Stanley Cup banner alongside the ones the dynastic team of the 1980s captured, Tavares will have to continue pushing his young co-stars to greater heights.

"We're disappointed, but [losing in the first round to Washington last year is] past us now," Tavares told the team's website last month after arriving at training camp.

"Getting out of the first round is a motivating factor and we believe we had a team that could go all the way and we're lucky we have basically the same group coming back. We're looking forward to it, the continuity is great."


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