The news that John Tavares will not be dealt was not actually news at all to Tavares. It was welcome nonetheless.
“Well, I don’t want to be traded,” he said after the team’s rigorous practice Friday at Northwell Health Ice Center. It was the Islanders’ first workout after two one-sided losses following the All-Star break and his first appearance after general manager Garth Snow told The Athletic in a text message Thursday, “I’m not trading John Tavares.”
The league’s trade deadline is Feb. 26. Entering Friday, the Islanders were a point out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tavares is playing out the final season of a six-year, $33-million deal. If he doesn’t re-sign, he will hit the free-agent market in July. Tavares said last month that he’d like to stay with the Islanders.
It is natural for speculation to surface about a star who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. In some instances, there is an assumption that a team that is unsure about signing the player would want to see what it can get, rather than risk the chance of losing him and getting nothing in return. That is not the case with the Islanders.
“It’s nice to hear that,” Tavares said, “but I had a good sense of that already. For me, I’m just trying to do my best to help this team. Everything else is out of my control. The goal is to get to the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup.”