We are six days into the NHL’s free agency period and the New York Islanders have not extended captain John Tavares’ contract yet.
For a franchise steeped in mediocrity for the better part of the last three decades, Tavares has been the best thing that’s happened to the Islanders ever since he was drafted first-overall in the 2009 NHL draft.
In eight seasons with the team, Tavares has already moved into the franchise’s top-10 in goals, assists, points and shots.
He’s helped lead them to three playoff appearances in the last five years and their first postseason series win since 1993. The Islanders had made the playoffs just four times in the previous 17 seasons.
But currently, there is a threat of Tavares leaving the Islanders as he is set to become a free agent during the summer of 2018 where there would be numerous suitors, including his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, waiting to pounce.
New Islanders owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin, along with general manager Garth Snow, can’t let things get that far as they have constantly stressed that they want Tavares to be in blue and orange for his entire career.
According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Tavares is not ready to sign despite Snow and head coach Doug Weight being “in regular contact” with the 26-year-old.
There are a number of issues that could be holding up extension talks, including the franchise’s ongoing search for a permanent home given their impending departure from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
New York also has to show that they are committed to winning and building a Stanley Cup contender around Tavares. They got off to a quick start shortly after the NHL’s trade freeze was lifted in late June, acquiring Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers. But the Islanders and the market has slowed since, though Snow can’t wait given the state of the Metropolitan division as the toughest in hockey.
Connor McDavid’s extension could get the ball rolling and give Tavares’ camp a number to give the Islanders in terms of what they’re looking for in an extension. The young Oilers star inked an eight-year, $100 million extension on Wednesday.