John Tavares will be the face of the New York Islanders organization for the foreseeable future.
The Islanders formally announced in a press conference at Nassau Coliseum yesterday that the organization and Tavares agreed to a six-year, $33 million contract. The deal runs from the 2012-13 season through 2017-18 with the average cap hit being a manageable $5.5 million.
Tavares will make $4 million next season, $5 million in 2012-13 and $6 million in each of the final four years of the contract. When it expires, he will be 27 years old.
“Today is an extraordinarily exciting day for the entire New York Islanders organization,” General Manager Garth Snow said in a prepared statement. “It has been our goal to put the best team on the ice every night and today we take an important step to insure that this will continue.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft joined Calder Finalist Michal Grabner, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson in signing extensions with the franchise during the off-season. Center Josh Bailey is a restricted free agent, but it is believed that he and the organization will come to terms on a new deal.
Because of the state of the Coliseum and the uncertainty surrounding the franchise’s future, the Islanders are not a preferred destination for free agents. Still, Tavares believes the Islanders’ willingness to lock up its young core players could entice players from around the league to seriously considering plying their trade on Long Island.
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“I sure hope so. I hope they see all us young guys really enjoy playing here. We have a great organization and a great staff and great group of guys; a hell of a locker room that have fun each and every day and play for one another and do anything for one another,” Tavares said. “For sure we’re excited about it. We’ve all made these commitments and we’ve talked about it, what we could possibly do here, if stuff like this can prove a point to a lot of people, hopefully we can send that message.”
Tavares has played in 161 of 164 games in his first two years with the Islanders. He has recorded 53 goals and 121 points in the two years. While he has experienced personal success, the team has not. The Islanders have finished in last place in the Atlantic Division both years and have not qualified for the playoffs since 2007. The last time the Islanders advanced past the first round was 1993, when they lost to Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“For sure the next step for us is to get in the playoffs,” Tavares said. “There are not much more excuses of gaining experience. We’re still young but a lot of us have played in the league two, three years now, so it’s time for us to get to that next level as a hockey team. If we can stay healthy, which I believe we will, and we keep making the progress that we have, we’re going to be a team that will be in the playoffs year in and year out.”
This season is the final year of Tavares’s entry level contract. Tavares will make a minimum of $900,000 this season.
Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.