The clock is ticking for John Tavares and the New York Islanders to reach a deal.
With less than two weeks until he becomes an unrestricted free agent, TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie had some updates about what might transpire in the coming weeks.
“Status quo in terms of the focus being on negotiating with the New York Islanders. But that doesn’t take him out of the possibility of becoming an unrestricted free agent. There’s still time on the side of Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders but they don’t have a deal yet. And what will happen is when the interview period opens up next week, if they still don’t have a workable deal with the Islanders, well then John Tavares is going to invite three, maybe as many as five teams to the CAA Hockey offices in Los Angeles to go through their presentations,” Dreger said.
“The focus is, as I said then, the same now, continuing to negotiate with the New York Islanders. Now, what’s different about the negotiations is of course Lou Lamoriello is at the helm. He’s guiding the discussion and he continues to speak to Pat Brisson on a day-by-day basis. He’s actively involved with John Tavares, talking with John directly. But you have to rewind the clock here a little bit. Garth Snow tabled an offer for Tavares with an eight-year term – maximum obviously – back in February. And that wasn’t good enough. It was around $80 million. That was a significant amount back then, so there’s been progress made, but obviously if they were to a point where they were willing to agree to terms, they would do that,” Dreger said.
“Like a lot of teams, no doubt, if John Tavares gets to the UFA shopping period, and it is still an “if” at this point, Toronto is believed to be putting together a promotional video for Tavares that may even include a cameo pitch or two from some current Leaf players,” McKenzie tweeted.
“There was even some talk that the Leafs last week quickly put in a sheet of ice at the ACC, presumably as part of some video shooting,” he added.
With Barry Trotz stepping down as head coach of the Washington Capitals Monday, Dreger notes this might have an impact on Tavares and the Islanders.
“And you’ve got to wonder what the New York Islanders are up to now with Lou Lamoriello. I mean, the Islanders are the only team without an official head coach and given the back and forth with John Tavares and Barry Trotz probably wondering is Tavares coming back? Tavares wondering is Barry Trotz the next coach? I suspect Lamoriello will engage pretty quickly.”
“As for Trotz, obviously, he’d be a strong candidate for NYI vacancy though, for what it’s worth, Trotz talked a lot this year about possibly taking a year off. Whether that was then and this is now, or that was part of a negotiation, or winning the Cup changed things, we shall see soon enough,” McKenzie tweeted.
The 27-year-old centre is coming off a six-year, $33 million deal he signed with the Isles in September of 2011 that carried a cap hit of $5.5 million. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Tavares’ impact is undeniable. He scored 37 goals last season and added 47 assists to give him 84 points, two off his career high that he set in 2014-15 with 86. Since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Tavares has spent the last nine seasons in New York, reaching the 30-goal plateau four times and in three of the last four seasons.