On Either Side of Manhattan
This would be the best news New York Islander fans - however many of them are left - could hope for.
Whether it's actually the right decision for the franchise, however, will be intriguing to watch.
The instability of the Isles is nothing new, particularly after another summer and another failed arena initiative, and neither is the importance of signing youngster John Tavares, the team's franchise player, any kind of news flash.
Rather than wait until after this season when Tavares completes his three-year entry level contract and then try to do a Steven Stamkos-like negotiation, however, the Isles are apparently trying to set yet another new trend (remember the Rick DiPietro contract) and extend Tavares now. Newsday is reporting that Isles GM Garth Snow and Tavares' agent, Pat Brisson, are trying to get a new five- or six-year deal done before the season.
"It's not something I want hanging over the season and affecting the team," Tavares told Newsday on Tuesday. "I know I'm going to be here for a long time and I'd like to get it done."
On the surface, this is good news all around, right? Well, maybe.
It depends what the money is. But the same problem applies to Tavares as with other young players looking for lucrative new deals like Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, Kyle Turris, Zach Bogosian and Tavares' Islander teammate, Josh Bailey; just how good are these guys really?
Tavares, the first pick in '09, had 54 points in his first NHL season and 67 points in his second. That's progress, and that's good. He's growing.
But how do you measure that growth and apply it to a long-term contract? Is it $4 million a year? $5 million? Or does his value to the organization exceed that and go to $6 million or beyond?
"Once this [contract] is done, it'll finally show people that this is where I want to be," Tavares told Newsday. "At the end of the day, until it's signed, some people will think there's a possibility I don't want to be here. I don't quite understand it; I never have."
The Kings, of course, are having a difficult time coming to terms with Doughty, and it would be intriguing if the Isles were to sign Tavares first. To do so, Snow and owner Charles Wang have to determine the value of their young star.
It would have been tough enough to answer that question after three seasons. But apparently the Isles want to try and answer it after two, and this is a franchise with a record of making hasty, expensive contractual committments (Alexei Yashin) that it lives to regret.
It shows the Isles are at least trying to be proactive. But whether its smart business is more difficult to ascertain.
On the other side of Manhattan, the potential bankruptcy of the Devils would be of some concern to the Bettman administration, and in theory could leave only the Rangers as a stable New York-area franchise.
The New York Post reported on Monday that the Devils could be headed to bankruptcy after a Sept. 1st loan payment was missed, an event linked to the ongoing attempts of minority owners to sell 47 per cent of the team. Devils ownership responded with a strongly worded statement on Tuesday denying that bankruptcy could be in the future.
This is a franchise, of course, that has long battled attendance problems despite winning multiple Stanley Cups. The Devils missed the playoffs last year despite having the expensive Ilya Kovalchuk around all season, and have a new head coach in Peter DeBoer in place as they try to get back in the mix this fall.
The Rangers, with Brad Richards in the fold, are the strongest of the three New York teams and the most stable. The isles have all kinds of franchise problems, but at least the have a ton of young hockey talent, including Tavares. The Devils? They're sort of in the middle, and the future of the team's ownership will go a long way to determining whether the club has any chance of returning to greatness.