With the calendar rapidly approaching September and there being less than 40 days until the start of the NHL's 2017-18 regular season, New York Islanders captain John Tavares has still not signed a contract extension with the team.
The star center that has just one year remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent would be the biggest target to land in the summer of 2018. With his kind of talent, interest from other teams would be overwhelming and almost dooming for the Islanders' chances of retaining him, especially if things get into a bidding war.
That is why it is so important for the Islanders to extend Tavares' contract now and lock him up for the next seven-to-eight years.
Right now though, negotiations have little to do with dollars and cents, but more with the direction that the Islanders are going in.
With the team set to leave the Barclays Center after a short, estranged relationship, the Islanders are searching for a new arena after missing the postseason for the fifth time in Tavares' eight professional seasons. The current favorite for the team's new home is the land right next to Belmont Race Track in Elmont, NY.
According to Newsday's Arthur Staple, Tavares has not turned down any contract offers from the team. In fact, "the sides have barely talked numbers."
Sources have told Staple that Tavares wants to see progress with the team's playoff aspirations and arena plans before signing on for the long term. Once the Islanders prove themselves, Staple expects the negotiations to "be quick."
As the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, Tavares has developed into one of the best players in franchise history, scoring 24 or more goals in each of his first eight years with the team. He already ranks eighth in team history with 235 goals and 10th with 302 assists.
What should be even more exciting for Islanders fans is that he is just 26 years old and in the midst of the prime years of his career.
Instead, they have to deal with the possibility of him leaving, though Tavares has remained professional and loyal to the team, as he told Staple last week that there "really is no rush."