Look, John Tavares is going to get paid. And he deserves it, especially since the New York Islanders have been enjoying one of the best non-rookie-deal bargains in his $5.5 million cap hit.
There are details to work out, depending upon how much money he wants to leave to build around him and how long a commitment Tavares prefers to make.
Unrestricted free agency isn’t just about squeezing out every dime, after all. It’s as much about finally getting the chance to choose where you work and who you work with.
That’s especially relevant with the Islanders, a team that missed the playoffs in 2016-17 and has been dealing with arena issues. With those factors in mind, it’s not surprising that TSN’s Darren Dreger, Newsday’s Arthur Staple and others report that money hasn’t been the focus of conversations.
Dreger confirmed as much via Tavares’ reps.
In a way, these updates are almost scarier for the Islanders.
GM Garth Snow at least took some measures to try to improve the team around Tavares by trading for Jordan Eberle, although it cost the Isles Ryan Strome and they then traded Travis Hamonic.
Bolstering the team the Islanders put around Tavares and securing the arena they play figures to be challenging and possibly complicated. It could be months before the Islanders get some clarification about their arena situation, for instance.
The good news is that Tavares stated that he’s in “no rush” to settle this, although that does little to calm the nerves of Islanders fans right now.
Tavares is justified in wanting a stable situation for the Islanders before he signs with them, particularly considering the team has only won a single playoff series since 1992-93 (with Tavares starring, of course). You only get so many chances to sign a big deal with a team of your choice, so Tavares should do whatever he can to make the right choice.
It sounds like the Islanders will get a real chance to prove that the best option is for Tavares to stay put, at least once they move into a cozier spot.
For what it’s worth, 60 percent of voters in a PHT poll believe that Tavares will re-sign with the Islanders.