Breaking down the Islanders’ John Tavares dilemma

Breaking down the Islanders’ John Tavares dilemma

As July 4 fireworks arrived, a contract extension between John Tavares and the Islanders remained unsigned. It has been three whole days that he could have inked a deal, and in that short time, the panic began to rise inside the fanbase that knows their captain is more than just a cog on the roster.

Tavares is the bedrock from which this franchise operates. As general manager Garth Snow navigated the draft and now wades his way through the shallow waters of free agency, all while second-year majority owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin do their best to try find a decent and permanent home rink, the actions are made in the context of Tavares being on the ice and being a perennial Hart Trophy contender.

But let’s make one thing clear: He is not being treated like another player.

Tavares has been kept abreast of all things going on with the franchise, and overall that means the owners’ likely upcoming bid to develop the site at Belmont Park. Maybe more importantly for him, Tavares was also on top of Snow’s active month, already yielding an upgrade up front in the trade that brought back Jordan Eberle from the Oilers, as well as obtaining high draft picks that are being stockpiled in the hopes of prying Matt Duchene out of the death grip of Colorado general manager Joe Sakic.

There can be no reasonable griping about the way Tavares has approached this situation, as level-headed as he has approached his whole career. At 26 years old, he has spent the first eight years of his career as fiercely loyal to the team that took him with the No. 1-overall pick in 2009, and at times it seemed like he was loyal to a fault.

But he is in the prime of his career, and at that turning point when the next contract can make it extremely comfortable for him and his family for the rest of their lives (if not for a few generations). It would be misguided to think he is holding the club’s feet to the fire, as in making any sort of unreasonable demands. But it also would be misguided to think he is going to blindly sign on the dotted line without seeing progress toward what would be stable on-ice and off-ice situations.

Tavares is still signed for this upcoming season at the league’s biggest discount of $5.5 million per, after which he would become an unrestricted free agent. The Islanders are the only team that can offer him eight years, while the rest of the league would max out at seven. And if the starting price from Snow had been thought to be something around $10 million per, it has certainly risen with some huge contracts being thrown around the rest of the league, none more resonant than the presumptive $13.25 million cap hit that will be attached to Edmonton’s wunderkind, Connor McDavid, once that contract is officially signed.

Matt DucheneNHLI via Getty Images

So if there is no reason to panic about Tavares not being signed right now, as the weeks go on, the anxiety will continue to rise. If it looks like a financial gap too large to bridge, then it is on Snow to make one of the biggest decisions in franchise history — trading Tavares for as much as he can get before losing him for nothing next July 1.

A smart negotiator also would try to get that trade done sooner rather than later, because if it came out that Tavares was not going to sign with the Islanders, then Snow has less leverage out in the marketplace with everyone knowing he has to move him.

Those types of scenarios are still very, very hypothetical. Right now, it’s only been a few days that have gone by as this generational talent mulls his options. Right now, there is no reason to panic.

But the summer can move quickly. July 4 turns into Labor Day, which turns into the start of training camp — all in the blink of an eye. There is urgency in getting a deal done, but the fireworks are not the sound of the sky falling. Not yet.

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Source : https://nypost.com/2017/07/04/breaking-down-the-islanders-john-tavares-dilemma/

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