While the New York Islanders faithful await a solution to captain John Tavares‘ contract situation, the star centre seems content to take his time before settling on a long-term commitment with the only NHL club he’s ever known.
Tavares’ current deal expires at the end of the 2017-18 season, leaving him the option of re-upping with the oft tumultuous Islanders or testing the market to find a better fit. The weight of the decision isn’t lost on the Mississauga, Ont., native.
“For me, there’s really no rush,” Tavares told Newsday’s Arthur Staple on Wednesday. “I’m trying to determine things, let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal and it’s been good so far.”
The timing of Tavares’ next deal is especially crucial, as a long-term pact signed in the next year would account for a key segment of the 27-year-old’s NHL tenure. The Islanders have made the playoffs in three of his eight seasons and advanced past the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs once.
“It’s a big decision obviously because it’s eight years of my career,” Tavares said. “Really entering into my prime years and a great opportunity for myself to achieve what I set out to achieve when I was a kid, making it to the NHL, wanting to win a Stanley Cup and wanting to do that with the Islanders.”
One central factor that has some assuming Tavares wants out of New York is the club’s continuing arena debacle. After trading the familiar walls of Nassau Coliseum for those of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015 — a transition that’s seen its share of difficulties — the Islanders find themselves in need of a new home yet again.
Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y., has sprung up as a potentially promising site for a new arena, however, and it’s likely the project’s progress ends up playing a decent role in Tavares’ decision.
“The possibility with Belmont and that (Request For Proposals) coming out, there’s great potential there,” Tavares said. “We’ll see where it goes. A lot of those things are out of my hands. Some things I don’t try to worry about them too too much. I’m just a hockey player.”
Still without an extension inked as training camp approaches, Tavares is well aware he could face a year of daily questions regarding his contract status. But it’s clear at this point that the captain is set on weighing all his options, and if last year’s version of this situation is any indication, that might not be too big an issue.
“Everyone’s circumstances are different, everyone’s situation is different,” Tavares said. “I think the year [Steven] Stamkos re-signed, [Tampa] was a game away from the Finals. So that was a team that didn’t let that situation affect them, nor do I think it should.
“For me, it’s just focusing on being a hockey player and the way I’ve approached every season.”