John Tavares (Photo by Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

by Mathieu Chagnon, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

While the whispers are swirling throughout the NHL, what will really happen with John Tavares? Will he ink a contract extension with the New York Islanders, will he set his sights on the free agent market, or will he be traded?

There’s one thing can be certain, Islanders general manager Garth Snow will be busy fielding phone calls during the upcoming season about his superstar centre. However, it is doubtful that Snow will be inclined to trade Tavares in 2017.

John Tavares, who will be turning 27 on September 20th, has one year left on his contract of $5.5M average annual value and has a no-trade clause. The limited no-trade states that Tavares can submit a list of eight teams to which he will not accept a trade. That said, he will certainly obtain a significant salary raise with his next contract.

It is unknown how the discussions are developing right now between Tavares and the Islanders management. It has been reported by the New York Newsday that Tavares doesn’t feel a rush to sign, that he’s still overseeing the situation and that he believes that the discussions are going well.

That said, John Tavares is being professional with his comments. In my opinion, he has been with the New York organisation for long enough to know if he wants to continue with them or not.

Some will be tempted to compare this situation to Steven Stamkos last season. However, the comparison should end with their similar contract situations and their superstar centre status.

When Stamkos decided to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he had many positive arguments leaning toward the option of staying in the sunshine state. The warm climate and the palm trees view might have played a part.

But the best explanation would be the low tax situation of the state. Furthermore, he could foresee a solid organisation with a strong young core, giving a window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup in the near future.

In the case of the Islanders, everything is quite the opposite, starting with the cost of living in the New York area and high taxes.

Plus, there is an uncertain future for franchise. The Islanders moved last season from Long Island to Brooklyn in the hope of attracting more attendance, sadly without success. The glory days of the Islanders is something of the past, and the prospect of a Stanley Cup seems to be out of reach at the present.

This doesn’t paint an attractive portrait to encourage Tavares signing a contract extension with the only team he has known, forfeiting other suitors around the league. Perhaps this offers the best reason why a new deal isn’t already finalized.

That bring us to the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s safe to say that the Habs will be interested in a player who could solve the one problem that has plagued them for so long. Whether planned or not, $8.4 million of cap space  could come in handy if Marc Bergevin wants to dive into the Tavares derby.

“Me and Marc talk everyday, and we talk about all opportunities (…) and we are talk about all the star players, including Tavares.” – Geoff Molson

If the Canadiens have interest, could the interest be mutual? Montreal has a great deal that could play in their advantage. Just wearing the sweater of the legendary bleu-blanc-rouge, one of the original six, is something special for any player.

If we consider the tax department, this issue could easily be overcome by the Canadiens offering a higher salary. Cost of living in the city is not a bargain but should be less than the big apple.

By joining the Canadiens, John Tavares would surely fill the void of number one centre but he would not be the only pillar of the attack. As a supporting cast, Tavares could have  Max Pacioretty at his side, one of the leagues best snipers. In addition, Tavares could have the opportunity to lineup with skillful young players who haven’t yet reached their full potential such as Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen.

On the back-end, Tavares would see familiar faces from Team Canada, like Shea Weber and Carey Price. When reunited at the Olympics and more recently the World Championship, the trio went for a conquest of gold medals. These victories allowed them create between them a bond of champions.

It is also a bond that Tavares would share even with his new coach, Claude Julien, who  assisted Mike Babcock behind the bench of Team Canada.

The Canadiens are already a good team, winning their division three times in the last five seasons. But if John Tavares were to join them, they would instantly become a serious contender to win the Stanley Cup.

There are only a handful of teams in the NHL that are only one player away from a championship, and that should weigh heavily in the Canadiens favor as Tavares makes his important decision.

 

Those who have already dismissed the Canadiens as contenders in the race to land Tavares, might be jumping to conclusions too quickly. There are a number of factors that are weighted in favour of Montreal.

The Canadiens could acquire Tavares via trade but that would require Marc Bergevin to put together a very generous offer to get the attention of the Islanders.

One thing is certain though, there will be a lot of attention until this situation is resolved. It could become a major distraction for Tavares and a number of teams as the season progresses.

Here’s my bottom line. In my opinion, I don’t believe John Tavares will be back with the New York Islanders in 2018-’19.

Use the comment section below to give me your opinion and the odds on Tavares wearing a Canadiens jersey in the near future.