John Tavares has a contract situation he must consider but also a country he’d like to represent if asked.
So, deciding whether to play for Team Canada in the upcoming World Championships May 4-20 in Denmark is more complicated than a simple yes or no for the impending unrestricted free agent. Tavares is one of several Islanders who could commit to the 16-country tournament now that the team has been eliminated from playoff contention.
“I don’t have a contract for next year so I’ve just got to determine what is the right thing to do,” Tavares said on Thursday. “I’ve always enjoyed playing for my country. It’s disappointing not being in the playoffs, but sometimes this gives you a chance, if circumstances are right, to continue your season and finish on a good note.”
Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle and rookie Mathew Barzal are other possibilities for Team Canada. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Nick Leddy are potential Team USA selections. Other possibilities for the Islanders, who face the Maple Leafs on Friday night at Barclays Center, include defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and goalie Thomas Greiss for Germany and goalie Jaroslav Halak for Slovakia.
“[General manager] Garth Snow mentioned it yesterday,” said Lee, who needs one goal to become the first Islander to reach 40 goals in a season since Jason Blake in 2006-07. “I haven’t made a decision yet. I still got some stuff to figure out. I’ve got a plate in my leg.”
Barzal said he wants to play if he’s invited.
“I know [Connor] McDavid is going so to get a chance to play with him and see him live and up close would be pretty cool,” Barzal said of the Oilers’ superstar.
Tavares played for Team Canada in the World Championships in 2010 and 2011. He also played for Team Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but injured his knee in the quarterfinals and missed the rest of the NHL season as well.
“There are two sides of it,” said Tavares, in the last season of a six-year, $33 million deal. “You’re playing a physical sport and a lot of things can be up in the air. At the same time, as a hockey player, you want to go out there and it’s a special thing to play for your country.”
Notes & Quotes: Coach Doug Weight said both Johnny Boychuk and Leddy are available to return to the lineup on Friday after both defensemen missed Tuesday night’s 4-3 win at Ottawa . . . Center Casey Cizikas (upper body), who has missed the last two games, has been ruled out both Friday and Saturday at New Jersey . . . Weight said center Alan Quine (injured reserve/ankle), out since Feb. 23, could return either Saturday or Tuesday against the visiting Flyers.