Here’s John Tavares’ dilemma: In the eight seasons and counting since the Islanders drafted him first general, he is served dutifully as the franchise’s face and captain, shortly realizing the preordained NHL stardom cast upon him at 17. It’s the Islanders who have not all the time held up their finish of the discount. And whereas Tavares insists that does not change his want to stay in Brooklyn (or Long Island, or Belmont, or wherever the team winds up next), he so yearns for a Stanley Cup.
The rest of the NHL has been watching.
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Tavares, proprietor of the league’s friendliest contract, signed in 2011, is due a serious increase. That it did not arrive July 1, 2017, was mildly disconcerting. He and the entrance workplace preached about getting “something done as soon as possible” at season’s finish after the Islanders missed the playoffs for the fifth time in Tavares’ profession. And hypothesis about the 2018 free agent class topped by a 27-year-old Tavares solely intensifies as weeks cross with no long-term deal.
Tavares gave a non-update update on contract discussions Tuesday whereas making his first media appearence of the offseason throughout an occasion in Toronto (of all locations), saying, “I think I’ll just keep that all internal.” But talks are ongoing, Tavares stated, and he reiterated a commitement to the Isles.
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“We’ve had great open communication, it’s obviously a great place to play, I’ve enjoyed my time being an Islander and I want that experience to continue,” he stated. “For me, I just want to get ready for the upcoming season and work on being the best player I can be for the Islanders.”
Increasingly, it feels like negotiations are headed down the similar path as counterpart Steven Stamkos. The Lightning captain, of course, spent the 2015-16 season coping with rumors he would bolt for his hometown Maple Leafs and a boatload of money. After a high-profile courting course of, he elected to remain put in Tampa two days earlier than free agency.
Stamkos stated he felt it was his best shot at profitable a Cup for the first time. But does Tavares really feel the similar method?
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The Islanders and GM Garth Snow know Tavares is vital to any championship shot, however have not completed nicely coloring round him.
This summer time, Snow acquired Jordan Eberle to play on Tavares’ wing and paid a king’s ransom of draft picks to make sure the enlargement Golden Knights would not poach prime expertise from the lineup which may impede the workforce’s capability to win now. He received these picks again and then some in trade for defensive stalwart Travis Hamonic, however they will be for naught if not flipped for an additional distinction maker earlier than the season, like the Avalanche’s Matt Duchene.
All of that is half of the Isles’ pitch to persuade Tavares to signal a long-term extension in New York. And that in doing so, he is higher suited to win — sooner and later — than he can be in Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Tampa Bay, et al. But that is the place issues get murky for everybody concerned.
The bar was raised for star gamers when Connor McDavid signed his $100 million ($12.5M AAV) extension with the Oilers.
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McDavid led the NHL in scoring and gained his first MVP at the tender age of 20, so he is an distinctive case. But he left cash on the desk. What does McDavid’s monster contract imply for a participant of Tavares’ ilk who hits the open market in his prime? The Islanders’ supply has been rumored to exceed $10 million per yr, however Tavares might conceivably strategy $12 million in a bidding warfare. Is he value the cash in the wage cap period? If so, who’s doing the bidding?
Toronto’s state of affairs is vastly totally different since its pursuit of Stamkos, altered by the on the spot stardom of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
It might not make monetary sense for the Leafs to throw an costly homecoming for Tavares, an Ontario native, with the youngsters due big-money extensions in the subsequent two years and one other $18.75 million dedicated to 37-year-old Patrick Marleau. Tavares has carried out his best to squash these rumors anyhow.
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The 2018 unrestricted free agent class has already misplaced some of its luster with the likes of Carey Price (eight years, $84 million), Cam Fowler (eight years, $52 million), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (eight years, $56 million) and Martin Jones (six years, $35.5 million) inking huge extensions. That’s the prime two goalies and prime two defensemen.
Below is a primer for each projected UFA subsequent summer time, ranked and sorted into tiers behind the undisputed No. 1.
The class doubtless will look totally different come July 2018. How a lot totally different shall be up to Tavares.
2. Cam Atkinson, RW, Blue Jackets … Financial hurdles apart, Columbus will not lose Atkinson, now entrenched in that core as one of the NHL’s prime aim scorers.
three. John Carlson, D, Capitals … Washington will do its best to maintain Carlson. But this top-pair, right-shot defenseman tasks to hit a slim market at 28. You do the math.
four. Kyle Turris, C, Senators … Turris might be up and down, however No. 1 playmaking facilities do not enter free agency typically, particularly not 28-year-old ones.
5. Evander Kane, LW, Sabres … At 26, Kane might be the youngest UFA ahead in the 2018 class. Another 28-goal season would uninteresting the character considerations.
6. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Maple Leafs … If Kane and Atkinson re-sign, van Riesmdyk stands to turn out to be the most sought-after scoring winger subsequent summer time.
7. Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, KHL … Never thoughts he’ll be 35. Kovalchuk’s confirmed historical past of scoring objectives in the NHL entices. It’ll draw a bidding conflict.
eight. Mikael Backlund, C, Flames … Backlund, 28, ought to construct on profession totals of 22 objectives and 53 factors for a large increase, in Calgary or elsewhere.
9. James Neal, LW, Golden Knights … Neal figures to steer Vegas in scoring when he is flipped at the commerce deadline, then reap the rewards in free agency.
10. Rick Nash, LW/RW, Rangers … No longer a dominant drive however Nash, 34 subsequent summer time, continues to be a lot succesful. A robust 2017-18 will earn him one final massive cost.
11. Paul Stastny, C, Blues … Health is all the time a problem, however Stastny, 31, is dependable when on the ice. He hasn’t performed 75 video games in a season since 2011-12.
12. Henrik Sedin, C, Canucks … One assumes the Sedin twins are a package deal deal. It’s arduous to think about them ending their careers anywhere else.
13. Daniel Sedin, LW, Canucks … That stated, the Swedish brothers might be 37 on July 1, 2018, and might not match in the rebuilding Canucks’ plans.
14. Mikko Koivu, C, Wild … Koivu will probably be on the incorrect aspect of 35 this time subsequent yr, however he is nonetheless an efficient two-way middle. Reliable as they arrive.
15. Bryan Little, C, Jets … One of the most underrated facilities in the recreation and barely pushing 30. If Winnipeg cannot lock him up, another person will.
16. Patric Hornqvist, LW/RW, Penguins … A digital lock for 20-plus objectives who performs necessary, bodily minutes up and down the lineup.
Wild playing cards
17. Joe Thornton, C, Sharks … The future Hall of Famer might properly run out of fuel earlier than July 1, 2018. Maybe not. He’ll flip 39 the subsequent day.
18. Jon Marchessault, LW, Golden Knights … A real wild card. If Marchessault, 26, exhibits his breakout 30-goal season was no fluke, be careful.
19. Mike Green, D, Red Wings … Green’s best days are behind him, however he’ll prime 35 factors with ease for a staff that may shelter his defensive deficiencies.
20. Josh Bailey, C, Islanders … If Tavares jumps ship, Bailey, 28 subsequent summer time, virtually definitely will keep. But the Isles might not be capable of afford each.
21. Antti Raanta, G, Coyotes … Raanta’s seemed the half of a No. 1 in restricted capability, however has to show it. If so, he’ll strike it wealthy as the prime choice in a razor-thin goalie class.
22. Ian Cole, D, Penguins … If Cole replicates his 2016-17 manufacturing, he’ll be due an enormous payday from the Penguins or one other workforce.
23. Tyler Bozak, C, Maple Leafs … Bozak is nothing flashy however might command a excessive price ticket with one other 50-point season.
24. Jack Johnson, D, Blue Jackets … Johnson, 30, enters 2017-18 a motivated man. This contract, his final shot at an enormous payday, follows a really public chapter saga.
25. Craig Anderson, G, Senators … Assuming Anderson, 36, continues to defy Father Time, he’ll be one of a couple of (solely?) starting-caliber goalies out there.
26. David Perron, LW, Golden Knights … Premium top-six minutes await in Vegas. Perron has the expertise to take benefit in a contract yr.
27. Toby Enstrom, D, Jets … Enstrom is probably going an odd man out on Winnipeg’s crowded blue line. At 33, he’ll nonetheless have one thing to provide one other workforce.
28. Zdeno Chara, D, Bruins … Like Thornton, we might see the final of Chara this season. He’ll be 41 subsequent summer time.
29. Patrick Maroon, LW, Oilers … Maroon could have Connor McDavid to thank for no matter large overpayment comes his approach in 2018.
30. Michael Grabner, RW, Rangers … Grabner recaptured his long-lost scoring contact in 2016-17. If he tops 25 objectives once more, somebody can pay him.
Best of the rest
31. Andrew Cogliano, C, Ducks
32. Lars Eller, C/LW, Capitals
33. Leo Komarov, C, Maple Leafs
34. Jonathan Bernier, G, Avalanche
35. Jannik Hansen, LW, Sharks
36. Dan Hamhuis, D, Stars
37. Jaroslav Halak, G, Islanders
38. Kris Versteeg, LW, Flames
39. Tomas Plekanec, C, Canadiens
40. Chris Kunitz, LW, Lightning
41. Valtteri Filppula, C/LW, Flyers
42. Eddie Lack, G, Flames
43. Luca Sbisa, D, Golden Knights
44. Thomas Hickey, D, Islanders
45. Andrej Sustr, D, Lightning
46. Chris Stewart, RW, Wild
47. John Moore, D, Devils
48. Antoine Vermette, C/LW, Ducks
49. Erik Condra, RW, Lightning
50. Lee Stempniak, RW, Hurricanes
51. Brayden McNabb, D, Golden Knights
52. Matt Read, RW, Flyers
53. Chad Johnson, G, Sabres
54. Luke Schenn, D, Coyotes
55. Jussi Jokinen, LW/RW, Oilers
56. Ondrej Pavelec, G, Rangers
57. Michael Hutchinson, G, Jets
58. Alexei Emelin, D, Predators
59. Carter Hutton, G, Blues
60. Matt Calvert, LW, Blue Jackets
61. J.T. Brown, RW, Lightning
62. Erik Gudbranson, D, Canucks
63. Cam Ward, G, Hurricanes
64. Mark Letestu, C/RW, Oilers
65. Brandon Manning, D, Flyers
66. Joe Colborne, C/LW, Avalanche
67. Shawn Matthias, C/LW, Jets
68. Kari Lehtonen, G, Stars
69. Eric Fehr, C/RW, Maple Leafs
70. David Desharnais, C, Rangers
71. Magnus Paajarvi, LW, Blues
72. Joel Ward, RW, Sharks
73. Jason Garrison, D, Golden Knights
74. Antoine Roussel, LW, Stars
75. Nicolas Deslauriers, LW, Sabres