There has been some cautious rejoicing in Islanders Country over the last 24 hours, in the wake of reports about John Tavares from the very reliable Darren Dreger and Pierre Lebrun, and why not?
Prior to Lou Lamoriello mercifully ridding the Islanders organization of the dark clouds brought by the Garth Snow administration, there was little chance Tavares was staying with the Islanders. Now, there is hope.
Dreger and Lebrun have reported that Tavares and agent Pat Brisson have been focused entirely on discussions with the Islanders, and there is a possibility the franchise player could re-sign with the club before the listening period with other teams begins in the last week of June.
I have a few…
- Here's the most positive thing to take away from Darren and Pierre's reporting -- know this: this news is out there because Brisson and Tavares wanted you to know about it. Be assured that this was not leaked by Lamoriello or Islanders ownership. The player and his powerful agent want it to be known, for the first time since Tavares was eligible to be re-signed by the Islanders (July 1, 2017), that they are engaged in consistent, good-faith contract talks with your Islanders.
- However, in no way does this mean Tavares is returning. Take the report exactly for what it is. When Snow was in charge, Tavares's side never prioritized speaking with the Islanders. Lamoriello has their attention.
- For more than six months now, back to when the Islanders' season spectacularly collapsed, I've felt Tavares would go the Steven Stamkos route. In other words, his first wish is to remain with the only NHL team he's ever played for, but he is open to listening to informal pitches from other teams. As of now, I still believe Brisson would like Tavares to at least hear from other clubs before July 1.
- If - if, if, if - Tavares is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, I'm told by a highly reliable source that the Vegas Golden Knights are prepared to go all in. They will package draft picks in a trade for another top-flight player. They will send the private plane to bring in Tavares and those closest to him for a tour. They will extend a seven-year offer with a significant AAV.
- Among the other clubs hoping today that the reporting of Dreger and Lebrun doesn't mean Tavares only has eyes for the Islanders: San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues.
- Although Tavares has been admirably loyal to the Islanders, Lamoriello understands the importance of getting a commitment from him before July 1. While Stamkos stuck with the Lightning, he had reason to believe income tax-free Tampa Bay would be a Cup contender for the prime of his new contract. The Islanders are not a lock to be a contender, and for at least the first three seasons of a potential Tavares contract, they are playing their home games in two arenas -- neither of NHL quality. If you're Lamoriello, you do not want Tavares courted by other clubs.
- As crazy as they've been, it's amazing how the last 12 months have panned out. On June 15, 2017, I would have said there's a 51 percent chance Tavares stays with the Islanders, while the ten other teams dying to sign him had a combined 49 percent chance. Thanks to the extraordinary sequence of events that led to Snow's removal and Lamoriello's ascension, I feel the same way today.