During NHL All-Star weekend, Islanders captain John Tavares told reporters that he was open to discussing an extension with the Islanders beginning in the off-season. Tavares has one more year left on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Currently playing in his 8th season in the NHL, Tavares has 226 career goals and 285 career assists, including 86 points during the 2014-15 season.
This is great news for the Islanders and their fans. Tavares is arguably one of the best players in the league right now. He is to the Islanders what Sidney Crosby is to the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin is to the Capitals. The Islanders can’t afford to lose a player like Tavares. Whether the general manager this off-season is still Garth Snow or somebody else, their first priority must be signing Tavares to an extension. Tavares is a franchise player for the Islanders. At the pace he is going, he could find himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When Tavares stated that he wants to talk about an extension in the upcoming off-season, one of the reasons he gave as to why he wants to continue to play for the Islanders organization was because due to the new team owners, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. According to Tavares, “They’ve brought some real good commitment and show their vision for the future. I’m excited about where the Islanders are headed, and hopefully we can work something out.”
Since making his debut in 2009 after being drafted 1st overall in that year’s draft, Tavares has been the face of the franchise. He’s been around through some good years and many lousy years, but has always given his all. He was named the captain of the team prior to the start of the 2013-14 season. He led the Islanders to their first playoff series victory in 23 years last season when they defeated the Florida Panthers in 6 games. Tavares almost single-handedly won the clinching game, scoring the game-tying goal in game 6 with just 53.2 seconds left in the third period. He later scored the winning goal in the second overtime period when he picked up his own rebound and beat the goalie on a wrap-around the net. This goal cemented himself as a legend in Islanders history.
It’s great to hear Tavares wants to stay in New York with the Islanders. Many were worried that by the time he would become an unrestricted free agent, he would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team he grew up watching and cheering for. The Islanders need to lock up Tavares for the long term and continue to build a team around him. As shown with his play with Matt Moulson, Tavares has the ability to make those around him better too. There aren’t many players with the talent, intellect, and leadership that John Tavares has. If the Islanders can sign him to an extension, there could be a day where he could be lifting the Stanley Cup in the future.