This is exactly what National Hockey League fans across the world want to hear - well, expect the ones in Long Island, of course. New York Islanders captain and star forward John Tavares is set to become the most coveted free agent on the market this summer, and we seem one step closer to seeing come to fruition it seems.
After yet another loss, this time to the Vancouver Canucks in overtime on Monday night which was also a seventh consecutive defeat for his club, Tavares made a rare and shocking admission to Newsday. And now, you better believe it got the attention of all general managers in the NHL, including his own GM Garth Snow, for when comes the time to offer him a lengthy lucrative contract extension.
“Whether it’s mental or just execution of a few plays, we just have to find a way to do it,” Tavares said to Newsday. “No one’s going to feel sorry for us . . . Obviously, this isn’t a whole lot of fun right now.”
The top forward is not having fun - and this will surely count for a lot in his decision to stay in Long Island. The Islanders' playoff hopes are fading, and fast, as they currently sit three spots out of the last place in the Eastern Conference Wild Card chase, six points away from the Columbus Blue Jackets who for now own the last place for the postseason. Since the start of Tavares' tenure with the Isles, the team has made it to the playoffs only three times, and now it is a crucial time for New York to prove to their star player, who is set to hit free agency this summer, that they can be true contenders.
"You wanna sign him? Make the playoffs!" recently said former NHL goalie and TSN analyst Jamie McLennan. "Because I don't see any scenario where John Tavares is going to sign an eight-year deal, regardless of the blank cheque Garth Snow slides across the table, if they don't make the playoffs."
Then, McLellan revealed the biggest missing piece for the Isles when it comes to re-signing Tavares and it has more to do with the overall success of the team, and not just the current playoff situation:
"When I look at his whole body of work, yeah he's got some terrific players around him likeMathew Barzal, who's probably going to win the Calder this year... I just look at this whole organization, and the one thing they don't have is a starting goaltender that can give them 65+ games, so if I am John Tavares and his management group and team and say: who is going to play in net for those years - that is a key decision for me moving forward there.
"I don't see any scenario that John Tavares, if they don't make the playoffs, that he is going to sign there."
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire recently named three teams that could be potential suitors for Tavares, three teams that just about no one would have put anywhere near the top of the list of teams likely to acquire him.The names listed by Mcguire are truly shocking, he names the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings all as potential suitors for Tavares, a move that would seem insane for a player trying to win a Stanley Cup in the short-term.
If another main issue is also having a starting goalie on the roster, only the Canadiens answer the call, but yet again, Carey Price has struggled all year and is now sidelined with concussions symptoms.
Many expected the Islanders to make a move at the deadline to improve their situation in between the pipes but nothing took place. GM Snow once again failed to complete a major move at the deadline as it was reported that he denied to trade Brock Nelson on Monday. A few teams across the National Hockey League were looking to add a netminder during Monday's trade deadline, but the usual suspects, Carolina Hurricanes' Cam Ward, Buffalo Sabres' Robin Lehner and Arizona Coyotes' Antti Raanta remained with their respective team.