The negotiations continue, and yet John Tavares remains unsigned, and will become a free agent next July. What’s next?
John Tavares doesn’t seem fazed
Don’t kid yourself, every star NHL player trying to wait out management’s decision on whether to pay them or trade them is nothing new. The New York Islanders do have a decision to make, but still have time to see what course to take.
They have just under $3 million in salary cap space, and trying to crunch some numbers to allow them to pay Tavares in the range which Connor McDavid ($12.5M), or Leon Draisaitl ($8.5M) will be a challenge.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
The bigger picture is the trend in the NHL that star players are asking for larger and larger contracts, which could cause the team to be banking on one or two players to carry the team to the Promised Land.
For the Islanders, signing Tavares becomes vital. They signed him to a very reasonable (at the time) $33 million for six-years. But at a salary of just $5.5 million a year, his production demands more.
He has averaged 33 goals a year over the past three seasons, and 41 assists as well as being their leader on the ice in his captain’s role. And, don’t think his casual approach to the situation doesn’t give him an advantage.
JT knows the team needs him more than he needs the team. He knows he hasn’t exactly had the support to assist him in getting the team to its projected goal. The Islanders attempted to resolve that situation by acquiring Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a non-productive Ryan Strome.
That may or may not help Tavares take some of the load off his back from being the constant go-to guy on the team.
Contract negotiation jargon
The 27-year-old recently told Newsday, “I’m not 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… In terms of signing a new contract, there’s a lot that goes into it. To really dive into all the details, get into all the conversations I’ve had with Garth Snow, the team and Doug Weight, I don’t think it’s productive to the situation and the negotiating. I prefer to keep it all internal, that’s the best way to keep it all open, honest and healthy.”
Large contracts can be detrimental to success
There have been rumors that Tavares may want to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, which would give them some formidable front line talent.
Pretty awesome, right?
The question with any team wanting Tavares’ services will be; can they fit him into their salary cap?
He may be seeking a contract in the $10 million range, and that would take some creative financing to give one player 15% of your entire payroll allotment. If you feel that should be no problem, take a look how it’s working out for the Chicago Blackhawks and shortly the Edmonton Oilers.
Both teams will be strapped with salary cap issues due to large contracts given to star players. Sure, the salary cap will probably continue on its seven per cent increase each season, but it may never catch up to the salaries being handed out to star players.
There certainly is no chance that the Islanders would allow their first overall pick from 2009 to walk without some kind of huge return. Players like him very seldom go to free agency, and are traded to receive some kind of value going forward.
The balancing act
When contract situations like this arise, it truly becomes a balancing act as to how much the team values the player’s abilities to pay him millions, while jeopardizing the team’s ability to pay the rest of the team.
For Tavares, he’s staying low-key, and allowing the process to evolve as he knows it will. But, time has a funny way of catching up to us all, and before you know it, the trade deadline will be here… and a decision will be paramount.
It seems unreasonable for New York to not sign Tavares; yet stranger things have happened. Any player can be traded, and I’m sure Tavares realizes that, but for now, he’s laying low, taking it in, and hoping for the best.
There’s no doubt what the Islanders feel is best for their team.
Now, they need to show it.
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