With less than 24 hours to go before free agency, there's a growing sentiment the Islanders are making a serious move for the No.1 available player, Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau.
Four years after John Tavares left the Islanders, could Gaudreau, the league's top UFA, replicate Tavares in rejecting the only team that could offer him eight years and come to Long Island? It's tantalizing to think about, so much so that fans are likely better off expecting that nothing will happen and be pleasantly shocked rather than getting their hopes up once again.
Former Islanders VP of Communications and founder of Islanders Point Blank Chris Botta tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that he expects the team to make an offer of around nine million a year for 7 years, acknowledging that other suitors, such as the New Jersey Devils can offer more.
The belief is that it isn't all about the money for Gaudreau, much like it wasn't for Tavares in 2018. He is looking for what he believes to be the best situation that checks boxes for both the player and his young family.
The question is, are the Islanders that fit?
Are the Islanders finally a free-agent destination?
It was easier to accept the Islanders not being active in free agency when the franchise was playing at the dilapidated Nassau Coliseum and a basketball arena in Brooklyn. The organization was the antithesis of stability.
It was predictable to see Artemi Panarin use the Islanders as leverage to sign with the rival New York Rangers in 2019. The Islanders were coming off a 103-point season but were still years away from playing in a new arena and had yet to show any sustained post-season success.
Things have now changed. But how much? The Islanders play in the first fourth-generation building at UBS Arena. Before last season, they reached the playoffs three consecutive years, falling a series shy of the Stanley Cup Final twice in a row. They are run by the most respected hockey executive in the game, and players and coaches gush over the commitment from ownership.
A lot has changed but Islanders fans are still waiting for their team, their arena, and Long Island to be a destination for a coveted free agent. When players live and play on Long Island, they tend to love it. The Islanders have been able to re-sign Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle, and others that had no interest in seriously considering other landings spots.
But now the Islanders once again find themselves on the eve of another NHL free-agent frenzy wondering if the state of their organization is attractive enough to land a superstar that will return them firmly back to Stanley Cup contender status.