The New York Islanders had one of the most intriguing offseasons in the NHL and a lot of those pieces are leading to a John Tavares departure. The top-flight center has openly admitted to being disgruntled with the current state of the team and unless things change will no longer be a part of their future.
The Islanders will be homeless at the end of 2019 as the owner of the Barclays center is reportedly exercising an opt-out clause in the original 25-year contract. The clause needs to be activated by Jan 31, 2018, and, if activated, the team would be forced to relocate at next seasons end. The new ownership group has reportedly been interested in a new arena near Citi Field or Belmont Park. However, a team that is notorious for struggling to turn a profit and struggling to secure public funding could possibly be looking towards a move to Quebec City.
None of this has sat well with the all-star center. He has done his best to quiet these talks, and his play has proven that this will not be an on-ice distraction but his feelings were well documented this off-season. GM Garth Snow has been working towards an extension as the season progresses, and Tavares has shown interest to stay, but it will be tough to convince number 91 to sign if they don’t have a rink to call home. While it would appear a free agent departure is the most likely outcome for this situation there is no reason to believe that if extension talks have come to a standstill Snow will not take an offer to recoup some of those draft picks they sent over to Vegas or a few top prospects.
Tavares’ current contract is extremely team-friendly with a current cap hit of only $5.5 million so much so even the Blackhawks could afford to bring him on. While he is expected to command around $12/year this offseason his current $5.5 million hit should have GMs preparing bids as we approach the trade deadline. While almost every team is reportedly interested in him this offseason teams GMs will have to gauge the risk vs reward of winning immediately and trading for negotiation rights. A center of Tavares’ caliber could command a king’s ransom in a trade situation, although he will most likely be departing at seasons end a blockbuster deal on deadline day is not out of the question.