Canadian goal scorer and giant Swede battle for number one

Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:28am EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - John Tavares, a Canadian goal scoring machine or giant Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman -- that is the intriguing choice facing the New York Islanders.

The Islanders have top pick in Friday's NHL draft for finishing with the league's worst record last season and if general manager Garth Snow has already made a decision he is not giving anything away.

Scrutinized by 30 NHL teams, dissected by hundreds of scouts, Tavares and Hedman have been poked, prodded and psycho-analyzed but days before the draft it is far from certain which player will hear his name called first in Montreal.

They have been asked to do push ups, bench presses and have been quizzed about who they would want to have dinner with; U.S. president Barack Obama, NHL bad boy Sean Avery or tennis queen Maria Sharapova.

While Tavares thinks he would like to dine with Obama, the correct answer if there is one, will not move him to the head of the class on Friday.

It is the choices Tavares and Hedman have made on the ice that will ultimately decide who will have the honor of going number one.


Both players have been labeled blue-chip talents destined for long, outstanding professional careers but offer fascinating alternatives for the Islanders.   Continued...

<p>Canada's John Tavares celebrates with the Canadian flag and his gold medal after defeating Sweden to win the gold medal game at the 2009 IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa, January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>