Tavares itching for NHL

Oshawa Generals superstar John Tavares smiles during practice in Mississauga on Tuesday for Team...

Oshawa Generals superstar John Tavares smiles during practice in Mississauga on Tuesday for Team Canada's Junior Hockey team. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

John Tavares can't get the idea out of his head.

Tavares told Sun Media last month he has tried not to think too much of becoming eligible for the National Hockey League draft in 2008, a year before he would be eligible under normal circumstances.

But after practising with his Team Canada teammates yesterday in Mississauga in preparation for the 2007 Canada/Russia Super Series, the 16-year-old Oakville native acknowledged that getting a green light to fast-track to the NHL would be all right.

"I would love to be drafted to the NHL a year earlier," said Tavares, who has 117 goals and 94 assists in two Ontario Hockey League seasons with the Oshawa Generals. "Anything can happen, you never know. Things have happened before and the draft has been changed.

"But the plan when I first went to the OHL (after being deemed an exceptional player by the league and made eligible for the 2005 draft at the age of 14) was to be in Oshawa for four years and that's the way I am looking at it right now."

Tavares' agents at Siskinds Sports Management want their client -- who was born on Sept. 20, 1990, just missing the annual NHL draft cut-off date of Sept. 15 -- to be allowed into the '08 crapshoot.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he has not spoken to Tavares' representatives since the draft in June in Columbus.

"We have an eligibility rule and we see no reason that would be compromised or changed due to a particular player's circumstances," Daly said in an e-mail.

"I let them know that if they wanted to forward a specific request, it would be reviewed. We have not heard anything from them."

In the immediate future, Tavares is concerning himself with other hockey matters. He lined up yesterday with Kyle Turris, the third pick overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, and David Perron at practice before Canada departed for Russia last night.

With the 35th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series approaching, Canada's best junior-aged players with face off with those of Russia in an eight-game series starting Monday to help commemmorate the landmark series between the two nations.

Tavares was cut by the Canadian junior team last winter and this exhibition series will serve as the first true audition for the 2008 Canadian junior squad.

"I'm waiting to get going and prove that I deserved to be on that team (last winter)," Tavares said. "I want to be the best player (in the series) and help Canada win it."

CANADA VS. RUSSIA

2007 SUPER SERIES

Canada's roster (with home town, team, NHL rights):

GOAL

1. Jonathan Bernier, Laval, Que., Lewiston (QMJHL), Los Angeles

30. Steve Mason, Oakville, London (OHL), Columbus

31. -Leland Irving, Swan Hills, Alta., Everett (WHL), Calgary

DEFENCE

2. Josh Godfrey, Kingston, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), Washington

3. Logan Pyett, Milestone, Sask., Regina (WHL), Detroit

4. Thomas Hickey, Calgary, Seattle (WHL), Los Angeles

5. Keaton Ellerby, Calgary, Kamloops (WHL), Florida

6. Ty Wishart, Comox, B.C., Prince George (WHL), St. Louis

8. Drew Doughty, London, Guelph (OHL), Eligible 2008

15. Luke Schenn, Saskatoon, Kelowna (WHL), Eligible 2008

27. -Karl Alzner, Burnaby, B.C., Calgary (WHL), Washington

FORWARDS

7. --Angelo Esposito, Montreal, Quebec (QMJHL), Pittsburgh

9. - Sam Gagner, Oakville, London (OHL), Edmonton

10. Zach Hamill, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Everett (WHL), Boston

11. Zach Boychuk, Airdrie, Alta., Lethbridge (WHL), Eligible 2008

12. Brandon Sutter, Red Deer, Alta., Red Deer (WHL), Carolina

14. Dana Tyrell, Airdrie, Alta., Prince George (WHL), Tampa Bay

16. David Perron, Fleurimont, Que., Lewiston (QMJHL), St. Louis

17. -Brad Marchand, Hammonds Plains, N.S., Val d'Or (QMJHL), Boston

18. Colton Gillies, Surrey, B.C., Saskatoon (WHL), Minnesota

19. Kyle Turris, New Westminster, B.C., Wisconsin (NCAA), Phoenix

20. John Tavares, Oakville, Oshawa (OHL), Eligible 2009

21. Stefan Legein, Oakville, Niagara (OHL), Columbus

22. Milan Lucic, Vancouver, Vancouver (WHL), Boston

25. Cory Emmerton, St. Thomas, Ont., Kingston (OHL), Detroit

28. Claude Giroux, Ottawa, Gatineau (QMJHL), Philadelphia

- - member of 2007 Canada junior team

-- - will miss series with a groin injury


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