It looks like the New York Islanders will go into this season with the face of their franchise set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
That doesn’t mean that John Tavares won’t sign an extension with the club at some point during the regular season, but as of right now, he hasn’t put pen to paper.
There’s no denying that Tavares is the most important player on the roster. Without him, the Islanders would be in a really, really, tough spot. Tavares knows that, management knows that and the fans know that better than anybody.
“Things are a lot more complicated than (the fans) think,” the Islanders captain said, per NHL.com. “I think everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s circumstances are different, but you look at some of the situations with guys in similar situations that I’m in, it doesn’t always happen the first day or that first month. It takes time. It’s a big decision in your life and you want to make sure you’re thorough and you understand everything going forward, so I think anybody making any decision like this in life would approach it the same way.”
Obviously, if he does hit the open market, every team would want to bring him into the fold. Players of his caliber just don’t hit free agency anymore. Even Steven Stamkos, who was days away from free agency last year, decided to stay in Tampa Bay instead of bolting to another club. Will Tavares do the same?
A franchise player who is a pending unrestricted free agent could easily become a distraction for the player and the team. The Islanders and Tavares will have to overcome that daily speculation from the media, which isn’t always easy.
“I think it becomes a distraction if you let it become a distraction. I don’t try to listen too much to what’s been written or said. I think you make your own judgments, you handle everything in your own way and you go out there and play the game that you’ve been playing since you were 3 years old. I think I’ve been here long enough, a lot of the guys know me and know who I am. I’m not going to try to change any of that.”