Well, that erupted quickly.
From a Newsday report last night (riffed on by us here, in honor of the loveliest Toronto columnists) to a media advisory at mid-day today about a press conference Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT, to all your finest media and cheeses quickly digging up the numbers for all to enjoy: The New York Islanders are about to lock up John Tavares for a reported 6-year contract extension with an average annual value (cap hit) of $5.5 million per year.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires before next season, so take all these conclusions with a dash of salt, but under current rules this means the contract would take Tavares through the rest of his RFA period and include two would-be unrestricted free agency years. (That said, the CBA rules could change next summer.)
Also pertinent for those less familiar with how these things work: Tavares' cap hit for the upcoming 2011-12 season, the third and final season of his Entry Level Contract, remains the same, $3.75 million (including bonuses). Any extension would affect the cap in 2012-13 -- and thus not address any floor worries you currently harbor.
Darren Dreger at TSN has the sequence of salaries at: $4mil, $5 mil, $6 mil, $6 mil,$6 mil, $6 mil.
If the reports are accurate, that would be $33 million overall, and line it up like so:
2012-13: $4 million
2013-14: $5 million
2014-15: $6 million
2015-16: $6 million
2016-17: $6 million
2017-18: $6 million
This follows reason (those first two are RFA years, the next two are arbitration-eligible RFA years), as well as the escalating pattern of the five-year extensions Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner signed earlier this year (each of which takes effect for the upcoming season, which means Tavares is locked up for two years longer than those two forwards).
In the long view, Tavares will join Okposo, Grabner and Rick DiPietro as the only Islanders signed past 2013-14 thus far, although they'll have a host of young players coming up for renewals around that time.
Despite the efforts of columnists north of the border, Tavares never acted like he wanted to be anywhere but with the Isles. I never expected an extension would be problematic, but this seems smoother than even my greatest expectations. Islanders fans, safe to say this is the contract you were looking for.
So you can celebrate now -- or, officially, Thursday afternoon -- and buy your Tavares jersey if you haven't already. (Note: The Nielsen get-up I bought from shop.nhl.com was poorly done and the nameplate fell off within weeks.)
But What about the Building?
Yeah, what about the building? The Islanders lease on Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum expires in 2015. An Aug. 1 referendum to replace it was rejected. They've got a few years for ultimatums or to find alternatives.
One has to suspect Tavares, Garth Snow and Charles Wang have had conversations about backup plans that won't be shared with the public until it's strategic to do so. But beyond that, you have to think Tavares is like Okposo and other young teammates in really enjoying the core the club is putting together.
Brian Compton of nhl.com today said Tavares told him this last week:
"I know Charles is going to make every attempt to keep the team here. We believe it'll work out. We're not sweating over it."
[UPDATE: Check this Yahoo! story for pretty much every single quote you ever wanted to hear from Tavares about the Islanders and Long Island. Seriously.]
That's actually similar to my outlook as an Islanders follower: The venue madness is beyond my control. For now I'll just enjoy what's happening on the ice.
But about that on the ice ... Josh Bailey*, Frans Nielsen. Got next?
*Speaking of RFAs in Bailey's class, Dreger has Zach Bogosian signed for two years, $5 million.