Islanders reward Tavares with $33M US extension

The New York Islanders announced Thursday that they've signed forward John Tavares to a six-year contract extension. The deal is reportedly worth $33 million US.

Forget all that talk and speculation that John Tavares would flee Long Island as soon as he got a chance at free agency.

Not only is he staying put, but the soon-to-be 21-year-old centre won't even test the market.

Tavares and the New York Islanders agreed to terms on a six-year, $33-million US contract that will keep the 2009 No. 1 overall pick under contract through the 2017-18 season. The new deal won't kick in until Tavares' three-year, entry-level contract expires after the upcoming season.

Sorry Maple Leafs fans. Tavares isn't coming home to Ontario anytime soon. Talks began this summer and the deal was hammered out on Wednesday, two days before the start of training camp.

"This was more about me being happy about being an Islander and wanting to be here for a long time," Tavares said Thursday, while decked out in a blue and orange Islanders shirt that matched one worn by general manager Garth Snow. "We started talking, and once we were that close we felt like there was no reason to let it hang over our heads.

"We wanted to get it done before training camp."

The Islanders operate on a low budget, and have to concern themselves more with reaching the floor of the salary cap rather than the upper levels. New York has done a good job in signing young core players the club hopes will get them back to the playoffs and beyond.

Tavares and fellow forwards Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo are all signed for at least three more seasons.

The Islanders have finished last in the Atlantic Division four straight years, have missed the playoffs in five of six seasons, and haven't won a postseason series since 1993. Their last-place overall finish in the 2008-09 season enabled them to pick Tavares No. 1 overall in the draft.

"The Stanley Cup is what we want," Tavares said. "That's what pushes us. That's what we're driven for. Obviously, sooner rather than later would be great. For us, this season it's one day at a time. Being a young team, we have a little bit more experience now. I think it's time for us to take that next step."

Tavares said he wasn't concerned about the uncertainty of anour young core. He's a player who strives to be the best he can. From my perspective, I have no reservations in making a commitment like this with John and to any player that brings to the table what John brings both on and off the ice."