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Tavares wants to remain with Islanders, may explore other options

Star center won't rush into decision, can become unrestricted free agent on July 1

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- John Tavares reiterated his desire to remain with the New York Islanders on Monday, two days after their season ended.

"This is obviously where I hope to be. I've always stated that," said Tavares, the No. 1 pick by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft. "But obviously, I have some time to think about my situation and go from there.

"I've loved it here. The people have really embraced me, the team, the organization. It's been first-class since I've gotten here. There's obviously some great talent and some great things ahead. Definitely a lot of positives. I'll obviously have to take some time and figure out what I want to do and go from there."

Tavares, 27, completed the final season of the six-year contract he signed on Sept. 14, 2011. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and would undoubtedly be the prize of that market.

He is still undecided on whether he will sign a contract in the coming days or weeks, or if he'll explore the opportunity to speak with other teams in the final week of June before free agency officially begins.

Video: The crew discusses what is the next for the Islanders

"I've got to take some time to see how things go over the next few days and few weeks and collect my thoughts and move on from there," Tavares said. "I think I've earned the right to take my time. I don't know if it will be a week, two weeks, a month, two months, I don't really know. A lot of those scenarios and hypotheticals are things that I haven't thought about or looked towards. I'm just still kind of realizing it's over and kind of sinking in that the season's done. That's still kind of what's fresh on my mind.

"You don't know how many opportunities you get to get to this point and possibly see what the landscape is. I don't even necessarily know if that's really what I want to do yet. I've always stated how much I love it here. It's emotional either way. Great organization, great place to play. Obviously, I want it to work out here."

It is not known if the Islanders will make any changes in the front office or the coaching staff; co-owner Jon Ledecky said Monday the hockey operations staff is under evaluation. Garth Snow has been general manager since 2006 and was responsible for selecting Tavares with the No. 1 pick three years later.

The Islanders have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and in eight of 12 since Snow became GM. New York finished 35-37-10, 17 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, in Doug Weight's first full season as coach.

"We believe it is essential to our success to have a thoughtful evaluation process to look at the past, and more importantly assess the future of our team on and off the ice," Ledecky said. "As for the past season, as owners, we have failed. We sincerely apologize to our fans. We want to express that our ownership group is totally committed to winning and providing the resources to do just that."

Snow said he believes he's earned the right to stay on the job.

"For me, 2006 when I took over this position, it was a situation where it was an all-out rebuild where we had to bring in talent through the draft," Snow said. "Now, we're in a situation where we feel we can compete for a Stanley Cup."

Tavares was 18 when he arrived in New York and spent his first season living with Weight, a teammate at the time.

"I think they know how bad I want to win, and I think I know how bad they want to win," Tavares said. "I don't think they're here not trying to win. They do the best they can on a daily basis and give it everything they have and try to get the most of our group and have success and have an opportunity on a yearly basis to play for the Stanley Cup. I don't think that's any question, their commitment to having a winning team.

"I've known them for a long time. There's a lot of trust there between them with me. I have a lot of trust in them going forward in how they're going to approach things. Obviously, those things are kind of out of my control. For me, I just may to take some time to think about really everything that goes into making a decision like this and go from there. I have a lot of trust in those guys."

"I sit here and listen to [Ledecky] say that the owners failed, and that's how I feel. I failed," Weight said. "It's not easy. It's very humbling. But we've got to learn from it, you've got to accept it and you've got to get better."

Snow is hopeful Tavares will remain with the Islanders, who have the ability to re-sign him for eight seasons. Tavares can't sign for more than seven anywhere else.

Video: Has Tavares played his last home game on the Isle

Snow said he is not considering trading Tavares' rights if he has not signed by the 2018 NHL Draft, which will be held June 22-23 in Dallas.

"We want to be in a situation where he has a Stanley Cup over his head and wearing an Islander jersey," Snow said. "We're focused on John retiring an Islander. We're not really thinking any other way than that here."

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