Editorials

New York Islanders John Tavares Won’t Sign Till January (Opinion)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 25: John Tavares
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 25: John Tavares /
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New York Islanders forward John Tavares hasn’t signed an extension. But why do we expect anything else? Tavares is using the leverage he has. Just like any of us would do in the same situation.

It’s been just shy of a month since New York Islanders captain John Tavares could sign an extension to his expiring six year $33 million deal. And fans are getting antsy. When and if he’ll sign is a question they want to be answered as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this might just go the distance.

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Think of it from Tavares’ perspective. Here’s a franchise that, after two seasons of progress, regressed significantly. I know they had a strong finish, but they still missed the playoffs. Which was not even close to what was expected at the start of the 2016-17 season.

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Tavares has been one of the leagues top producers since he entered the league in 2009-2010. He’s regularly regarded as one of the leagues elite level players. He’s in the prime of his career. And in less than a years time he can have the ability to go anywhere he wants. He holds all of the cards in the negotiation process.

Yes, he’s naturally loyal. Yes, he wants to stay here. And ultimately I think he stays. Not just because of blind loyalty, but because he got what he wanted in the process.

What He’s Looking For

So what does he want? Outside of Tavares himself and maybe his agent Pat Brisson, no one knows exactly what he’s looking for. But an educated guess can be made. He wants this team to be competitive, not just to make the playoffs, but to win it all. When I said, “educated guess” I meant to state the obvious, of course.

That’s what it all comes down to. But in order to do so the New York Islanders have to address a few issues. They have to address their playing personnel and figure out where the team’s going to play in the short term and the long term.

New York Islanders

The Isles already started addressing their playing personnel issues by swapping Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle straight up. The trade, one analyst has pointed out, improves the Islanders chances next season. However, more than just adding a top line winger needs to be done.

They still need a second line center. Maybe they can find one somewhere in the organization’s deep prospect pool. Maybe Mathew Barzal can step into the role for the Isles in 2017-18. But even then, the Isles won’t know that for sure till at least training camp opens at the end of September.

And then there’s the whole arena drama.

A recent town hall session on the upcoming Request For Proposal (RFP) process for Belmont Park was just held at the Elmont Public Library early this month. An area that league commissioner Gary Bettman said the New York Islanders will bid on.

But the RFP process hasn’t yet opened so not only have no shovels broken ground yet, but a proposal has yet to be submitted if even drawn up. The Barclays Center, the Isles current home, took two years to build, from the time the first shovel hit the ground. That means the New York Islanders still have a few years to figure out where they’re going to play.

Where the Isles play will have a significant impact on the team’s ability to fuel a competitive roster. The Isles have a good deal with the Barclays Center at the moment. Although Barclays people will certainly say other wise. The deal reportedly pays the Isles $50 million a year to play there. Something Barclays wants to change in upcoming negotiations.

I don’t think Tavares waits until the new arena situation is figured out and works gets underway. That could take years, and Tavares’ time before the other 30 vultures hanging outside can swoop in is already down to less than twelve months.

According to Newsday, the Islanders and the Barclays Center must enter in good faith bargaining and come up with a plan by January of 2018. That’s what I’ve got circled on my calendar.

The deal won’t likely go for another 25 years like the one that they currently have. But expect the deal to lower that yearly stipend to the Islanders and bridge the gap to the construction of a new arena.

That’s what Tavares is waiting for. The team will certainly inform him on the deal before we hear about it, they talk to him about everything else.

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Think about it. You get to enter in an agreement with your boss on a new contract or compensation package. This was your first job and you’re loyal to the company. You’re the companies top performer, sales people, or whatever it is that you do. You wait out and get exactly what you want from the company, don’t you?

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