Center John Tavares, who is entering the final season of his contract with the New York Islanders, is pleased with how negotiations have gone and is not worried about entering the season without an extension, Newsday reported Wednesday.
Tavares wasn't willing to discuss the talks he's had with Islanders general manager Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight, but it appears the dialogue has been positive.
The No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Tavares has 537 points (235 goals, 302 assists) in 587 games, all with New York. He signed a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million in 2011 and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018. He has been eligible to sign an extension since July 1.
"For me there's really no rush," Tavares told the newspaper. "I'm trying to determine things, let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal and it's been good so far. … In terms of signing a new contract, there's a lot that goes into it. To really dive into all the details, get into all the conversations I've had with Garth, the team and Doug, I don't think it's productive to the situation and the negotiating. I prefer to keep it all internal. That's the best way to keep it all open, honest and healthy."
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The Islanders, who are entering their third season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, are expected to bid on a 43-acre lot at Belmont Park on the Queens/Long Island border to build an arena. Tavares, New York's captain, said he is waiting to see how that situation plays out. All bids from potential developers are to be submitted to New York state by Sept. 28.
"The possibility with Belmont and that [request for proposal] coming out, there's great potential there," Tavares said. "We'll see where it goes. A lot of those things are out of my hands. Some things I don't try to worry about them too, too much. I'm just a hockey player. I try to be as best prepared as I can be. It's a big decision obviously because it's eight years of my career, really entering into my prime years and a great opportunity for myself to achieve what I set out to achieve when I was a kid, making it to the NHL, wanting to win a Stanley Cup and wanting to do that with the Islanders."
Tavares also said continuing contract talks won't be a distraction while he tries to help the Islanders return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They finished one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference last season.
"It's only a distraction if you let it become a distraction," he said. "It's not something that every single day I stress and worry about. I'm trying to just be myself, prepare for the season like any other season. Try to be the best captain I can be, the best player I can be for the Islanders and be the best teammate I can be.
"I think everybody knows me pretty well, how I approach things. I think some of that comes from the media standpoint and I understand why the questions get asked. But at the same time all I can control, and all we can control as a team, is how we approach every day and how we can get better and achieve our ultimate goal."