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Tavares focused on negotiations with Islanders, agent in ‘daily discussion’

A blow to all the outsiders, or a move to shop offers from beyond?

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In one of the more promising quasi-updates since the whole John Tavares: Pending Free Agent saga began over a year ago, a TSN Insiders report says the Islanders captain is currently “focused on negotiations with the New York Islanders” less than two weeks before the free agent flirtation window opens, when Tavares could talk with other teams.

(Of course, to be fair, he can’t really focus on any other team right now because he’s not allowed to talk to any other team just yet. That window is between the draft and July 1.)

Darren Dreger of TSN said Thursday afternoon that Lou Lamoriello, president of hockey operations and self-appointed general manager for the Islanders, is in daily communication with Pat Brisson, Tavares’ agent, and has “talked on many occasions with Tavares, offering up his vision” for the future of the team.

It was previously reported that Lamoriello and Brisson were in frequent contact since the change in management last month, and it was widely reported — though of course Lamoriello wouldn’t confirm and never will — that Lamoriello met with Tavares even before the former Devils and Maple Leafs executive was announced as the new boss.

Tavares has never said his eyes were looking elsewhere. Indeed, he has painstakingly said his preference is to remain here, despite 35,000 words spilled to speculate otherwise. But the longer he waited, the more logical it was to infer that he at least wanted to hear what other teams had to say about and to him.

And as even Dreger said, that may still happen “if negotiations stall.” So this could be Camp Tavares simply pinning Lou down on what he thinks is a fair offer, so that he can then take it to shop for better implied bids (you can’t actually discuss numbers {wink wink} during the flirtation window) from other teams.

It’s unclear how much negotiation, if any, ever took place with now-deposed GM Garth Snow. And how much took place, if any, between primary co-owner Scott Malkin and Brisson.

(Honestly, the report from Dreger is just a couple of sentences, it’s likely based on info from people who want this to be out there for their own strategic reason, and the info is subject to change. We’re just posting it because you know it’s gonna be on the webz and you’re wondering where it came from. Dreger is the same insider who said mid-winter he just had a “feeling” Tavares would want to sign in Montreal.)

UPDATE Friday morning: Pierre LeBrun shared in his post for The Athletic Friday morning that Brisson confirmed to him the sides have been in “daily” contact for the past three weeks. LeBrun also shared that more and more NHL team executives think Tavares is staying put, though of course as usual no one actually knows what JT is thinking.

Regardless, this is the first time in a while that a mainstream reporter/hockey insider has stated that the franchise player’s focus is (even if only temporarily) only on negotiating with the Islanders. So reduce your threat level, I guess?