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Tavares' contract situation won't bother him: teammate

Islanders center, entering final year of deal, is 'going to score more,' Ho-Sang says

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- John Tavares' contract situation will not faze the New York Islanders center, according to teammate Joshua Ho-Sang

"John's dealt with a lot his whole life, I don't think this is going to be anything to him really," the Islanders forward said at BioSteel Camp on Monday. "If anything, I think he's going to score more."

Tavares, 26, is in the final year of a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million. He became eligible to sign a contract extension July 1. 

Tavares has expressed hope that he could sign an extension before the Islanders open the season at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 6. 

"You can't predict how things go," Tavares told The New York Times on Wednesday. "Sometimes the process takes a little bit longer than maybe what people expect. You just kind of allow it to happen." 

Video: 31 in 31: New York Islanders 2017-18 season preview

With Tavares not having signed an extension, media speculation about his future has increased. Ho-Sang compared it to Steven Stamkos' situation two years ago, when the Tampa Bay Lightning captain was entering the final year of his contract after months of speculation about where he would end up. Much of that speculation revolved around Stamkos, who is from Markham, Ontario, playing for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares is from nearby Oakville, Ontario.

Ho-Sang expects the speculation around Tavares to grow as the season progresses. 

"It's because (the media wants) him to go to Toronto, that's why," Ho-Sang said of Tavares, who had 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 77 games last season. Tavares has 537 points (235 goals, 302 assists) in 587 NHL games, all with the Islanders, who selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.  

Ho-Sang, who made his NHL debut with the Islanders last season and had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 21 games, is from the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, Ontario. He is well aware of the hype that can develop around a pending free agent potentially joining the Maple Leafs, especially when the player is of the caliber of Tavares or Stamkos. 

Video: Josh Ho-Sang's expectations going into 2017-18

Two years ago, Stamkos was eligible to sign a long-term contract extension on July 1, 2015, but played the 2015-16 season without signing one. Rumors were rampant that Stamkos would sign with the Maple Leafs after the season. 

The speculation ended on June 29, 2016, two days before Stamkos would have become an unrestricted free agent, when he signed an eight-year, $68 million contract to remain with the Lightning. 

Though the Maple Leafs have significantly bolstered their roster in the past two years, adding young forwards Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and William Nylander, there have been reports that Toronto could be interested in Tavares if he reaches unrestricted free agency on July 1. 

This week, TSN suggested that the Maple Leafs could have room under the NHL salary cap to sign Tavares to a one-year contract next offseason. That would be similar to forward Marian Hossa signing a one-year, $7.45 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 before signing a 12-year, $63.3 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks the following year.

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