NHL free agent rumors: John Tavares focused on signing extension with Islanders

John Tavares (Getty Images)

No other player will be under a microscope more than the Islanders’ John Tavares this summer.

Tavares, set to become an unrestricted free agent following nine seasons in New York, has been the subject of intense speculation around his decision the last few months. But the Islanders’ hiring of Lou Lamoriello last month may be enough to persuade the face of the franchise to stay on Long Island.

According to a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger, Tavares has turned his attention toward signing an extension with the Islanders. The 27-year-old and agent Pat Brisson have engaged in “daily discussions” with the Islanders’ brass over the past two weeks, the report said, after Lamoriello pitched his plan and “vision of the Islanders moving forward” to Tavares. 

New York’s offseason priority will revolve around the Islanders’ captain. Tavares, who led the Islanders in scoring in 2017-18, refused to address his future throughout the season, as he often mentioned that he tries to “control what I can control.” The Islanders failed to make the postseason for the second straight year, the sixth time in the Tavares era. 

In May, Lamoriello was hired to be the Islanders’ president of hockey operations. He didn’t take long to make drastic changes as he relieved Doug Weight and general manager Garth Snow of their respective duties. In the past, Snow’s inactivity around the trade deadline led many to believe which direction the Islanders are taking. There was no clear route to contention or a rebuild. 

When it comes to Tavares, his needs are simple. 

“Tavares, like every player, he just wants to win,” Dreger said on TSN 1260. He just wants to win or contend for a Stanley Cup. And when you look at the New York Islanders, it doesn’t look like they’re anywhere near contention. So those are going to be some of the things that he factors in in the weeks ahead here before ultimately making his decision.”

After the Islanders’ final home game of the season, fans attempted to show their appreciation for the face of the franchise since 2009. They know the cost to keep Tavares will be hefty, but worth it. Tavares has until July 1 before he hits free agency. For the next few weeks, all eyes will be on the superstar.