The clock is ticking, but according to some NHL insiders, the clock might have already stopped. Pending free agent and star forward for the New York Islanders John Tavares has yet to enter contract negotiations with the club that selected him first overall back in 2009, but we all feel deep inside that probably has made a decision already. The captain is just waiting to see if something will change in the way the Islanders are approaching the most important moment of their franchise thus far.
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman was frank when he recently revealed that Tavares was most likely expecting more from the Islanders at the trade deadline. And while some experts say the Montreal Canadiens are gaining traction in talks to sign the star forward, one things remains clear to Tavares: winning. Something the Habs didn't do that often this season...
“Winning is obviously going to be a huge factor,” explained Elliotte Friedman during the latest edition of his 31 Thoughts podcast with Jeff Marek. “I’m sure the Islanders are going to sit down with him again and say, ‘John, what’s it going to take to sign you now. Just tell us. What’s it going to take.’ “
“It’s not just a number,” continued Friedman. “It’s going to be about how the organization is going to work."
Many rival clubs who have the cap room to take on Tavares' next lucrative contract will want to chat with him and offer him what he is looking for, but Friedman believes that despite the Habs finishing up an embarrassing season, they still have a special weapon in their possession to land a seat at the table of discussion with Tavares himself. And something, speaking French doesn't just work to seduce someone in romantic chick flick.
"I think the most fascinating thing is going to be who gets a seat at the table, because everyone is going to ask. I would believe this: My guess – and this is just me talking – that if the Montreal Canadiens are still interested, Marc Bergevin’s longtime friendship with the agent, Pat Brisson, is going to get him a seat at the table."
However, there is a massive hurdle in the way from Montreal, and there is nothing Bergevin can do about it: taxes.
“No. 1, are the Montreal Canadiens at all close to winning. And No. 2, he’s going to have to offer the max because Nevada – I could see Vegas being into this – no state tax. Florida – and I still think the Lightning are going to try to find a way to be part of this – no state tax. Texas – if Dallas says, ‘Okay, we’d like to be part of this.’ – no state tax. Montreal I think has the highest tax in the league right now. How are you going to beat that.”
The fact that Montreal is not a better contender than the Islanders at winning a Stanley Cup and the tax rate in Montreal could be a factor in Tavares’ decision, now we are not as sure as we were that the star forward's choice has been made...