For years, John Tavares was the easy answer to the question: “What’s the best bargain NHL contract that isn’t a rookie deal?” After years of enjoying that steal of a deal, the New York Islanders face the threat of losing their crucial star altogether via unrestricted free agency.

With that killer contract expiring after 2017-18, the rumblings have been there since at least as long as Steven Stamkos was no longer possibly hitting the market. The video above this post’s headline is from February, and by no means does that represent the beginning of such rumblings.

Tavares says the right things

Stamkos himself said all the right things before re-signing with the Lightning, but then again, Tampa Bay has enjoyed some deep playoff runs. The Islanders haven’t been able to do the same, yet give Tavares credit: he’s at least saying the right things as well, as he did with TSN on Tuesday.

“I think I’ll just keep that all internal,” Tavares said. “We’ve had great open communication, it’s obviously a great place to play, I’ve enjoyed my time being an Islander and I want that experience to continue.”

It’s up to the Islanders

NHL.com points to some wise Doug Weight quotes regarding Tavares back in June (even more on that here).

“Listen, you come to this situation maybe twice in your career if you have a long career that works out where you’re really in control of the situation,” Weight said. “John wants to win Stanley Cups. He wants to be a Hall of Fame player. He wants to do it as an Islander. I would want nothing more, as our organization, than to see him lift the Stanley Cup with the ‘C’ on his chest with the New York Islander logo. It’s where he belongs.”

Even so, Weight also admits that the organization has “things to prove to him.”