Marc DesRosiers, USA Today Sports
It’s hard to put into words just how important John Tavares is to the New York Islanders (and me). Before drafting the 27-year-old center, the franchise was a floundering laughingstock, and relocation rumors were just a normal part of life in Islanders Country.
Then came Tavares.
After years of hype, the Islanders were lucky enough to tank at the right time and drafted Tavares first overall in 2009. It was a gigantic moment for the team.
Nine years later, the Islanders captain is now one of the most coveted free agents in NHL history.
Tavares is meeting with six teams (including the Islanders) at his agency’s office in Los Angeles. Toronto and the Islanders met with JT on Monday, San Jose and Boston met with him on Tuesday and Tampa Bay and Dallas are sitting with him on Wednesday.
According to the market, the Islanders remain the favorite for JT’s John Hancock. At +115, the odds suggest there’s about a 46.5% chance that Tavares stays in blue and orange. Oddsmakers make the Sharks second favorites, with the Leafs, Stars, Lightning and Bruins coming in behind them.
Those odds would have been a lot longer about a month ago. Before the 2017-18 season, it seemed like Tavares was a lock to re-sign with the only NHL club he’s ever known, but a dismal season — coupled with a circus-like front office — cast serious doubt on his future on Long Island. Since then, however, Islanders ownership has whipped the franchise into shape. It started by hiring Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello as general manager and he, in turn, poached Barry Trotz from the Washington Capitals just days after they won the Stanley Cup.
Another thing the Isles have going for them is that — according to the CBA — only they can offer Tavares an eight-year contract, with the rest of the NHL limited to a maximum of seven seasons. It is believed that Tavares will garner $11 million per season, and the Isles have already reportedly offered him an eight-year, $88 million deal.