New York Islanders Still Front Runner For John Tavares (Opinion)

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: John Tavares
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: John Tavares /

It’s been quite the whirlwind this year for John Tavares. Tavares’ contract with the New York Islanders is ending on July 1st. With the changes that have been made, the question still remains; will he stay or will he go?

New York Islanders fans have certainly got some extra gray hairs from this John Tavares free agency ordeal. “I’m hoping that I’m coming back,” Tavares said during locker room clean out, “I love it here.” With that being said, many people wonder the possibilities as to why he hasn’t put pen to paper yet.

Tavares had a great year in 2017-198 by individual standards. He finished the season with 84 points, just shy of his career high, 86. There is no doubt Tavares is the face of the Islanders franchise.

Which begs the question; why has he gone this long and not signed a new contract? Surprisingly, it isn’t all that uncommon.

His Future

Steven Stamkos, arguably one of the top 10 players in the league, like Tavares, waited a long time before he resigned with the Tampa Bay Lightning, two days before NHL free agency began.

“He’s obviously having an unbelievable season,” said Stamkos of Tavares earlier in the year, “To see the season that he’s had under the circumstances goes to show you the type of character I know he has.”

New York Islanders

Just two years ago Steven Stamkos was in the same position Tavares is in now. Islanders fans can only wait and hope it ends the same way it did for Stamkos. Stamkos ultimately signed a new contract with the Lightning two days before free agency.

Garth Snow, the Islanders’ former GM, said, “We want [Tavares] to have the Stanley Cup in his hand, in an Islanders jersey, we want him to retire as an Islander.” This carries a little less weight now that Garth Snow was fired from GM.

Tavares is currently involved in talks with five other teams. These teams include the Maple Leafs, Stars, Bruins, Sharks, and Lightning. Lou Lamoriello has stated, “I have no disappointment, no discouragement,” he continued, “He’s earned every right to make whatever choice he has. The most important thing is that we hope in the end that he’s an Islander.”

The Islanders have put a lot of pieces together. They have a young core, new GM and coach, and a new stadium in Belmont Park. However, there are a lot of pieces missing. The Isles bottom four defense is still weak and they don’t have a starting goaltender.

What It Means

With all this going on, what does this actually tell us? In my opinion, the Islanders are still the front-runners to sign Tavares. It’s hard to bet against the Islanders.

After all, the Islanders are all Tavares has ever known. Loyalty has become very important to him. When Tavares talks to these other teams, he knows all of them are in a “winning mentality”.

For a while, Tavares was the only one to show loyalty, but recently the team has stepped up big. They’ve tried to show him that they too are loyal to their players by committing to excellence by bringing in Lou and Trotz.

The Islanders are no different. With all the moves the Islanders have made, it is clear they want to win. Even if Tavares told his agent he wanted to stay, a good agent is always going to tell his client to listen to what is out there.

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Fans across the NHL are waiting for his decision. And they will have an answer later this week. But if you ask me, when the season opens on October 4th, Tavares will be in Carolina, along with the rest of the New York Islanders.