Islanders captain John Tavares is reportedly still not ready to commit to the Islanders, Art Staple of Newsday reported earlier this month.
To that end, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet notes:
"I've said a million times that I believe John Tavares's first choice is to stay with the Islanders. But, if he does decide to leave, why do I have visions of him taking less money to play in Tampa Bay?"
The 26-year-old Tavares notched 28 goals and 38 assists in 77 games for the Islanders last season. He is set to earn $6 million this coming season, after which he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
The eight-year deal Connor McDavid signed with the Oilers is one of the factors delaying a resolution between the Islanders and Tavares, Staple recently reported.
McDavid's deal was announced last week, coming in at $12.5 million per season.
Former Islander Matt Martin, now with the Maple Leafs, doesn't think the delay with Tavares gives any indication that he won't sign long-term with the Isles.
"I think Johnny is a pretty loyal guy," Martin told Newsday on Monday. "It's a tough decision. Obviously, this next contract is probably going to be where he essentially plays for the rest of his career and it's something he's got to think over and consider. I don't think that [just because] he didn't sign [a contract extension] on July 1 is any indication that he's not signing with the Islanders."
It was reported last month by Darren Dreger of TSN that Tavares was more willing to wait on an extension with the Islanders.
Since then, the Islanders have acquired Jordan Eberle from the Oilers in exchange for Ryan Strome.
Tavares and his agent, Pat Brisson, reportedly feel more comfortable with the general direction of the Islanders, from their new home to what their plans are to build the team into a contender.
Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Friedman is as good as they come in the business and this opinion echoes the one Larry Brooks made in the New York Post over the weekend.
While I disagree Colorado was 'looking at' Ilya Sorokin as part of the Matt Duchene sweepsteaks (why would they if the guy is not coming to North America for another two years given everything we've heard Joe Sakic wants for the prize of the summer), this actually makes some sense.
Not to say Tavares is leaving, but if he were to say goodbye to the Islanders, Tampa would be a perfect place to land a contract that, on the surface, seems lower than what other teams could offer but instantly gains tremendous tax benefits. Not to mention the chance to lineup alongside Steven Stamkos.
Tavares seems willing to wait for now on putting his pen to paper, and with the next seven-to-eight years of his life in the balance, it's hard to blame him, really.
There are questions to how improved the Islanders are at this point. And of course, the ever-lingering arena issue still to be sorted out. I don't feel he's made any decision at this time and it's impossible and unfair to speculate which way he might be 'leaning.'