During the NCAA March Madness tournament, we ran a New York Islanders bracket that asked fans to vote on the biggest storyline for the Islanders this season. After just over a week, we have a winner.
First, let’s go over the two competing New York Islanders storylines during our bracket. From side A it was John Tavares’ contract extension or lack thereof, and from Side B is Mathew Barzal’s season.
Before we ran the bracket, co-Expert Matt O’Leary and I got together and ranked the top 16 storylines from the Islanders 2017-18 season. Tavares’ extension was a number one seed while Barzal’s season was the second seed behind the Belmont Arena deal from Side B.
Both are important for their own reasons, but only one could win. And that was John Tavares’ lack of contract extension.
It’s A Big Deal, or it Could Be
I’m honestly surprised. I thought Mathew Barzal’s all-but-confirmed Calder Trophy-winning season would have come up the winner. It was close to winning with 49% of the vote. But with 51% of the vote the Tavares deal (or no deal) took it.
It’s not that I’m surprised that Tavares’ extension is that big a deal for fans. We’re talking about the team captain, their superstar player, and the man who’s carried this franchise since he was drafted by the team first overall in 2009.
But I figure that the first Islanders to win the Calder Trophy since Bryan Berard in 1997 and finding a second star player to finally support Tavares would carry more weight. But then, if Tavares leaves does Barzal’s season matter in the long run?
Don’t get me wrong, what Mathew Barzal has done this season is fantastic. But if Tavares leaves then is Barzal and the Islanders any better off? At best this team is likely in the same situation it was in when it only had Tavares to carry the load.
We keep hearing that John Tavares wants to stay an Islander, but as days turned into weeks into months and still no signature it’s impossible to blame fans that are worried. Making the Tavares contract situation the most important issue for the New York Islanders in 2017-18.