The New York Islanders recently received confirmation that they can put shovel to dirt in Belmont Park, securing a new arena by around 2020-21. That's a few seasons away.
It was long believed that John Tavares' future in New York was tied to the future of the team's potential arena, as conditions in Brooklyn are far from ideal. There's no doubt in anyone's minds that general manager Garth Snow is ready to throw everything at his superstar centre, so it never seemed to be an issue of money for Tavares.
With the new arena location confirmed, the belief was that Tavares would sign an extension with the team, especially given the strength of the team this year, with the likes of Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Matthew Barzal among others having great years.
Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos confirmed that not only is no contract imminent, there have been zero talks between Tavares and management, and there may be none at all this season.
"I'm told no talks, and none really coming in the foreseeable future here. I think that's bad news for Islanders fans," Kypreos began. "There's no question that many people linked the rink situation with Tavares moving forward here, and no question that he is stated that's one of the things I'm sure he was concerned with, with a lot of Islanders.
"But there seems to be a lot more boxes he wants checked off. The real feeling going into the new year is that he may wait this thing out. Perhaps talk a little bit after the regular season, but really the feeling is he may want to look at what's on the outside (on) July 1st."
There are many teams that will pursue him - but only so many can afford him. One of the teams that will throw the biggest contract at him is Montreal. General manager Marc Bergevin has been scouring the Earth for a top line centre, and one may become available free of charge (as far as assets go) on July 1st. Now - will Tavares want to enter the pressure pot that is Montreal?
Hard to say.
But the Canadiens have the space, and have some excellent pieces that could benefit greatly from Tavares' presence. Jonathan Drouin could return to the wing, his stronger position, and Max Pacioretty will finally have a bonafide centreman to set up his lethal shot.
With friends like Shea Weber and Carey Price on the team, two of the best players at their respective positions, the possibility is all too real. TSN's Darren Dreger recently spoke on radio and his gut feeling told him that Tavares wants to play for Montreal. With the news that he is inching closer and closer towards testing the open market, could this actually happen?