This could very well be a benchmark day in the history of the New York Islanders. Shortly after the reported hiring of Barry Trotz, Newsday's Andrew Gross shed some light on the status of negotiations between star captain John Tavares and the organization.
"Also, not a done deal, and still a fluid situation, but sounds like Isles may have good news on John Tavares as well," Gross wrote via his Twitter.
Tavares is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after spending the first nine years of his NHL career with the Islanders, who drafted him first overall in the 2009 draft.
Since his debut, the Canadian has developed into one of the elite talents in the league and one of the greatest players in Islanders franchise history.
At 27 years old, he already ranks seventh in franchise history with 272 goals, fifth with 349 assists, fifth with 621 points and third with eight hat-tricks. He's been the lone consistent bright spot for an organization that has struggled to stay relevant in the league. Over the past nine years in which Tavares has graced New York's first line, the Islanders have made the postseason just three times winning a series just once. Naturally, it was Tavares who sent the Islanders to the second round of the 2016 playoffs with a game-winning overtime goal in Game 6 against the Florida Panthers.
But his future with the team as his contract expired remained in doubt as the Islanders failed to provide him with anything close to a Stanley Cup contender. Much of that had to do with the ineptitude of general manager Garth Snow upgrading the roster around Tavares. There was also the question of where the Islanders would call home. A three-year experiment at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn provided a difficult commute for many of the players, including Tavares, and fans still out on Long Island. As a result, along with inconsistent play, the Islanders' attendance figures have been among the worst in the league over the past three years.
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With those factors alone, it's understandable if Tavares wanted to test the open market beginning on July 1, but Islanders new president of hockey operations and acting general manager Lou Lamoriello does not seem to keen on taking things that far.
But the Islanders look to have secured a state-of-the-art, hockey-first home in Elmont, NY near Belmont Park which should be completed in the next few seasons. In the meantime, the Islanders will split games between Barclays Center and their former home, the Nassau Coliseum.
Since being hired at the end of May, the Hall-of-Fame executive who won three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils has transformed the Islanders, firing head coach Doug Weight and GM Garth Snow before this reported agreement with Trotz to take over behind the bench next year. Trotz will be the most established coach to take a head coaching job with the Islanders with 19 years and a Stanley Cup title under his belt.