EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – John Tavares sounded like a man who wanted to remain a member of the New York Islanders for a very long time. But even as the Isles’ captain, and star player, expressed his desire to remain with the organization it is far from certain that a contract extension will be signed this offseason.
It’s no secret the situation the Islanders and Tavares face this offseason. Tavares, 26, is entering the final year of his team friendly six-year deal and the question remains if the Islanders will be able to ink Tavares to an extension before the start of the 2017-18 season, or even extend his stay in Brooklyn at all.
Tavares has expressed his desire to remain with the Islanders, the organization that drafted him first overall in 2009, and reiterated that once again on Monday during his final meeting with the media during the club’s locker clean out day.
“I think for me at the end of the day I want to win a Stanley Cup,” Tavares said. “I think everyone here is absolutely committed to doing that, so hopefully we can work something out and I’m here.”
However, the situation is far more complicated than Islanders’ management just convincing Tavares of the vision they have for the organization. The Islanders have a decision to make about who will be behind the bench next season, who will be running the hockey operations department and where the team will be playing in the near future just to name a few of the questions surrounding them.
Tavares plans to sit down with management and get an understanding of what their plan is moving forward, but he doesn’t think the process needs to be figured out right away.
“I don’t think my situation has to be rushed or be taken care of tomorrow,” Tavares said. “It’s going to be a process and that’s kind of the way I hope it goes. I think it’s good to just take our time and decompress a little bit and move on from there.”
Still the longer the offseason goes on without any sign of an extension coming the more chaotic the situation could become. It is no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs have coveted Tavares since he was drafted and other teams would be more than happy to have his services if he hits free agency in 2018.
Steven Stamkos was peppered with questions every where he went during the 2015-16 season, which was the final year on his contract in Tampa Bay, but ultimately re-signed with the Lightning before free agency.
Tavares would ideally like to get something done sooner rather than later with the Islanders, but is only just begging to wrap his head around the process that lies ahead of him.
“Like I said before and during the season, I’ve never had to worry about it because it’s just not that time yet,” he said. “But now as the time approaches we’ll start going through the process of talking and getting there. Even before that, Doug determining what he wants to do and then the process going forward from there, which is probably first on their agenda let alone my situation.
“Just take it one thing at a time, one day at a time.”
And as far as negotiating an extension during the season next year, Tavares said he hadn’t even though thought about that.