John Tavares should not, and almost certainly will not, be dealt by the Islanders prior to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 26.

The question of whether Tavares should be traded - instead of the Islanders potentially losing him in July as an unrestricted free agent for nothing in return - continues to be raised in league circles and by columnists.

To be clear, the view here is that Tavares should not be traded. The return is unlikely to match the damage done by giving up on trying to re-sign him.

There should be no mistaking this: losing Tavares in his prime would be equivalent to an NHL franchise allowing a Sidney Crosby to walk away. Did you see Tavares in the third period and overtime of the win over the Devils on Sunday? It's astonishing how much better Tavares is than everyone else on the ice. Even the majestic Taylor Hall, whose hands sometimes fail to connect with his blazing speed, is not nearly as valuable a player as Tavares.

Tavares makes everyone around him better. (Do we need to go over all of the linemates from his Islanders career, some not even from too long ago, who aren't even in the NHL today?) When this franchise needs a lift, which is weekly, Tavares never disappears. He is front-and-center in almost every crucial play. He is like the original JT, John Tonelli, but as a superstar center.

When you consider how he has acted, performed, and delivered since he was first drafted by this troubled franchise, you could not possibly ask for any more from Tavares.