Jamie Benn’s contract sets the bar for John Tavares’ next deal with Islanders

Jared Clinton
John Tavares (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New York Islanders co-owner John Ledecky has already said GM Garth Snow is going to have no financial restrictions when it comes to making the team a Stanley Cup contender once again, and that seems especially true when it comes to locking up Islanders captain John Tavares.

Tavares, 25, is currently in the fifth year of a six-year, $33-million deal that could see him become an unrestricted free agent come the end of the 2017-18 season. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, when Ledecky was asked how the Islanders would approach things when Tavares is inching closer to free agency, he said plainly that Tavares “is not going to be a free agent.”

While it’s one thing to say it and another to make the deal reality, it sure seems like Ledecky and Co. are willing to do whatever necessary to get Tavares to sign on the dotted line. And while it’s hard to know where Snow’s starting point will be come July 1, 2017 — the day he can officially submit a contract extension offer to Tavares — the eight-year, $76-million deal inked by Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn offers an almost perfect comparable. Read more

New Islanders owner says team will spend to “cap-max” in hunt for Stanley Cup

Jared Clinton
John Tavares (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

This past season saw the New York Islanders win their way to the second round of the post-season for the first time in 22 years, and new owner Jon Ledecky said there will not be any financial restraints in the way of the once-dynastic Islanders snapping their 32-year Stanley Cup drought.

Ledecky, who joined up with Scott Malkin to take over the majority ownership of the Islanders from Charles Wang, told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that the plan for the Brooklyn-based club is to spend wherever necessary to bring the glory days back to the Islanders.

Already, some signs of Ledecky and Malkin’s commitment to spending money to ice a winner has been seen, as New York went out and signed Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5-million deal. The Islanders also spent to add Jason Chimera and P-A Parenteau through free agency.

“There are no financial constraints on (GM Garth Snow) and the team,” Ledecky told Botte. “So if we need to be cap-max to compete for a Stanley Cup, we will be cap-max…We want the New York Islanders to be a destination in free agency and we want the Stanley Cup to be lifted by our captain, John Tavares, whether it’s this year, next year or five years from now.” Read more

Why frontrunner George McPhee would be the best choice for Las Vegas

George McPhee  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Las Vegas expansion franchise will name the first GM in its history Wednesday, and while it appears that owner Bill Foley has scanned the hockey world interviewing candidates, things keep circling back to two prominent hockey names – Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee.

(UPDATE: I spoke with a very reliable NHL source at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday who told me he has been told by four different people that McPhee will in fact be named GM.)

When the team interviewed candidates for the job recently, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill put in a strong performance. But the sense in the hockey industry is that Foley and former NHLer Murray Craven, who is assisting him in the process, settled on Mellanby and McPhee early on as their frontrunners and someone would have to really impress them in order to unseat them from that position.

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Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs still haven’t made decision on Lupul’s future

Joffrey Lupul (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons praises the ability of Maple Leafs management to ship out contracts considered untradeable. He observes they’ve shed over $23 million in salary-cap space in the last 18 months by dealing away Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier.

That prompted Simmons to speculate their next trick will be making winger Joffrey Lupul’s contract disappear. Lupul, 32, is signed through 2017-18 at an annual average salary of $5.25 million. He also holds a modified no-trade clause listing 14 acceptable trade destinations.

Since joining the Leafs, Lupul’s continually been sidelined by injuries. He missed 31 games in 2015-16 to a sports hernia. As a result, his name is frequently surfacing in trade rumors. Read more

Decision Day looms for Kyle Okposo, now the most sought after free agent of 2016

Ken Campbell
Kyle Okposo. (Graig Abel/NHLI  via Getty Images)

Practice has been over for a half an hour, and the dressing room is largely empty. Most of the New York Islanders have already showered and changed into their civvies, strictly adhering to the NHL off-day dress code of sweat pants and backward ball caps. Some are already on their way out of the rink. A lot of them take the Long Island Rail Road home from the team’s practice facility in Syosset, N.Y., and it’s on a schedule. Welcome to the real world, fellas.

As the dressing room empties, Kyle Okposo remains slumped in his stall, still in full equipment, save for the Islanders cap replacing his helmet. His legs are splayed, his fingers intertwined as they rest on his chest. He’s in no rush to move along. In fact, he looks as though he’s getting ready to go out and take another twirl. Perhaps it’s because he has a two-year-old and a newborn at home and realizes the chaos that awaits him. Or it could be that this is where he feels most comfortable. He speaks easily and relaxed, not the least bit ill at ease or scripted. Finally, a member of the training staff stands in front of him with the bin full of practice sweaters, hoping he’ll take the hint. “Oh, sorry,” Okposo says, peeling off his sweater. “I’m kind of in La-La Land here.”

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Islanders reportedly working on long-term deal with Frans Nielsen

Jared Clinton
Frans Nielsen (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Frans Nielsen may not be the most offensively gifted unrestricted free agent about to hit the open market, but the 32-year-old pivot is among the few true two-way centers available to be had when free agency opens on July 1. That is, if Nielsen gets as far as free agency.

With how important Nielsen has become to the Islanders’ second line, it appears GM Garth Snow is going to make a serious push to lock up the center before July 1 rolls around, and with a number of free agent talent ready to hit the market, including scoring winger Kyle Okposo and fourth-line grinder Matt Martin, it looks as though the main focus for Snow is becoming Nielsen.

Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported Saturday that Snow and Nielsen’s agent, Marc Levine, have been in contact over the past few days and talks are apparently circling around a long-term deal that could see Nielsen remain with the Islanders for the foreseeable future. And given that it at one point looked as though Nielsen may hit the open market, finding a way to lock him up would be excellent for New York. Read more