Lou Lamoriello’s hiring has apparently pleased John Tavares.
A league source told Newsday on Tuesday that the Islanders’ franchise player, captain and, most critically, impending unrestricted free agent on July 1, viewed Lamoriello being brought aboard as the president of hockey operations with full autonomy over decisions as a positive step toward Tavares’ stated goal of playing for a winner.
Lamoriello, most recently the Maple Leafs general manager, guided the Devils to three Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003 during his tenure as that organization’s president and GM from 1987-2015.
The league source said that Lamoriello does not view the Islanders, who have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and won just one playoff round since 1993, as a rebuilding job. The Islanders finished seventh in the eight-team Metropolitan Division with a 35-37-10 record.
The league source added there was a “convergence there” between Lamoriello’s objective and Tavares’ desire.
Tavares, 27, selected first overall in 2009, had 37 goals and 47 assists while playing in all 82 games this past season, the final one on a six-year, $33-million deal.
Tavares’ next contract is expected to be worth as much as $10.5 million annually.
Lamoriello, on a teleconference Tuesday, did not comment on reports he has already met with Tavares and/or Tavares’ agent, Pat Brisson.
“I never said I’m expecting to leave or looking to leave,” Tavares said after scoring the winning goal in the Islanders’ 4-3 win at Detroit on April 7 in their season finale. “I’ve always wanted it to work out.”
With or without Tavares — obviously more so with the top-line center — the league source said Lamoriello believes there are enough valuable assets within the organization to quickly build a winner.
That includes young forwards Mathew Barzal, expected to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, Anthony Beauvillier and Anders Lee.
Still, Lamoriello will likely need to acquire a No. 1 goalie and one, if not two, top-four defensemen.