This summer stands to be one full of franchise-defining issues for the Islanders. In a series of roundtables, SNY's Brian Erni and Andy Graziano will discuss these topics. The guys have taken on Garth Snow's potential fate, and the chances of building a new arena at Belmont Park. In the final installment, it's the chances of signing captain John Tavares to an extension…
The Islanders have begun to prep their pitch for an extension to John Tavares. So Andy, what do you think is the linchpin to getting this thing done this summer?
Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Various sources suggest that the Islanders are going to know way before the start of summer. From what I've been told, after the season, Tavares wanted to take a couple of weeks off and get healthy coming off his hamstring injury. Then, he was going to let management know before the end of May if he plans on discussing an extension or not. That could be a reason why there was more arena news over the last week, which I think will play a factor in this, but likely won't be the primary one.
I'm surprised that you don't think it's the primary one. I would assume that before he committed to this team for another eight seasons (or possibly more), that would be the first thing he wants clarity on. Especially after the soft ice surface at Barclays Center was likely partially responsible for his injury.
Well, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I think it's a safe (very safe, perhaps) assumption is that the team will remain in the area, perhaps even a stone's throw away from the Nassau Coliseum. So it might not be a pressing concern. What I'm sure he does want more information on is the direction of the organization, and whether he truly believes they can compete for a Stanley Cup.
Yeah, it does seem like ownership is 100 percent committed to the area, so maybe Tavares is just convinced it won't be factor.
But if direction of the organization is the determining factor, I have to think the Islanders are positioned well. Between the emergence of Josh Ho-Sang, the promise of Matt Barzal on the horizon, and a boatload of cap space set to open up after next season ($28.35 million in expiring salaries, not including Tavares' own $6 million in expiring salary), I would think JT would see a big window of opportunity.
He should, but does he trust enough in the vision of general manager Garth Snow? Snow has now been deemed safer than anyone could have imagined, so he's not going anywhere. Does he truly believe that Snow can assemble the right roster make-up and with the money to become available, smartly evaluate current and future talent?
Also, we have seen before that excelling in Junior/AHL levels is not necessarily a precursor to success in the NHL, so while Barzal looks like a player, it's no sure thing. Not to mention he has to buy into head coach Doug Weight's vision also and believe in his system, which is untested with a longer sample size.
That's true, but the same unknown factors - at least for prospects panning out and general managers making the right moves - exist everywhere else. Nothing is guaranteed.
What Tavares knows with a certainty though gives the Isles a strong case: 1) They're already a playoff-caliber team, 2) Under the CBA, he can get an extra year on a contract from them as opposed to other teams, and 3) They have the cap space to pay him handsomely and go out and be active in free agency. That's something very few teams can boast.
You're right. But the structure around the Islanders' front office is different than some of the other clubs around the league, let's say Toronto or Detroit, for example. And that can lead to more organizational instability.
And to touch on the contract points, I believe that, at this point in his career, Tavares is thinking beyond money and more focused on his desire to win a Stanley Cup, or put himself in the best possible position to do so.
That may be, but let's not kid ourselves: money and term are factors here, too, and they should be. And I just don't see where he does as well fiscally and gives himself as good of a chance to win.
Plus, John has always struck me as someone that wants to be the guy, meaning that he wants to take the responsibility of winning on put it all on his shoulders. Here, he is that guy, and he takes his promise to try to deliver a Cup to Islanders fans very seriously. To go somewhere else just to be another cog is something that I'm not sure appeals to him. I really think he wants to see the situation with the Islanders through.
That's certainly the indication he's given, and there is no reason to doubt him after everything I've personally heard him say and seen him do, both on and off the ice. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate, look at all sides, and prepare myself for either scenario. I still think, if they can't get some kind of verbal commitment prior to June, you will hear his name being mentioned at the draft in Chicago, as the Isles gauge the market. As they should, if it gets to that point.
Obviously that's the doomsday scenario, one that hopefully won't play out. So what's your read? Plays odds maker. What chance do you give the Isles to get this thing done?
At the start of the season, I was 90/10. Now, I'm sitting at 70/30.
I still feel very strongly that this is where Tavares wants to be, in his heart. The only question will be, after reviewing the myriad of factors that go into this decision and conferring with his agent, does his head say the same thing?
I've still got it at 90/10. He has said all the right things, done all the right things, and now has a chance to make good on it. Guys like John Tavares are very rare, and the Islanders have to do everything they can to hold onto him. What's more, they know it. So I'll leave an allowance for the fact that there is some uncertainty surrounding the organization, but if I had to bet the house on it, I think JT is an Islander for life.