Tavares needs to be happy wherever he signs, Martin says – NHL.com

NEW YORK — Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin had the chance to play the first seven seasons of his NHL career with New York Islanders center John Tavares.

Martn said he’d love to have Tavares as a teammate again someday, but his main concern is that his friend is happy with whatever decision he makes, whenever that may be.

Tavares is entering the final season of the six-year contract he signed with the Islanders in 2011 and has been able to sign an extension since July 1. The No. 1 pick of the 2009 NHL Draft, Tavares can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2018.

Martin compared the situation to what Steven Stamkos experienced with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2015-16 season. Stamkos signed an eight-year, $68 million contract to remain with the Lightning on June 29, 2016, two days before he could test the free agent market.

“I think Johnny’s a pretty loyal guy,” Martin said at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok on Monday. “It’s a tough decision. Obviously his next contract is probably going to be where he essentially plays for the rest of his [NHL] career. It’s something he’s got to think over and consider. A great player in Stamkos went through the same thing last year and it went right to the wire and he decided to stay home.

“I don’t think that he didn’t sign July 1 is any indication he’s not signing with the Islanders. I think it’s a process that he’s got to think over and do what’s best for him and his family. As a friend of mine, would it be great to have him? Absolutely. But I want him to do whatever will make him happy and wherever he feels where he can win and

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