Now that Ovechkin’s much deserved Stanley Cup bender has settled down, it’s time for the hockey world to shift their focus to the biggest off-season question mark: who is John Tavares signing with?
Tavares’ has spent his entire 9-year NHL career with the New York Islanders, and is widely regarded as one of the league’s best forwards. However, things haven’t panned out in Long Island like many believe they should have. It’s been speculated for years whether or not Tavares would return to the Islanders this summer. His 6-year contract officially expires on July 1st, and at that point, John Tavares is an unrestricted free agent.
I’m sure every NHL team would love to have Tavares on their roster. However, not every team has the cap space for Tavares, and even fewer teams were on his list of teams he would consider. Tavares is in Los Angeles this week taking meetings at the CAA office with the teams he had on his list. Those teams are Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and re-signing with the Islanders. I’ve also seen a few reports that Tavares also included the Nashville Predators on his list, but there hasn’t been any confirmation.
Each one of those teams has a good pitch to land Tavares. The Islanders have a new head coach in Barry Trotz, as well as a low-key lifestyle that a player of Tavares’ talent wouldn’t have in a large market like Toronto. There’s also the desire to finish what has been building for 9 years.
Tampa Bay and Boston both have Stanley Cup contending rosters for the next few years. Both teams are young, high-powered offenses that Tavares could fit right into. However, both teams have a tricky cap situation that would need remedying before being able to sign Tavares’ impending large contract.
Based on most of the reports I’ve read, Tavares is leaning toward signing with the San Jose Sharks. They’re continually competing for the Western Conference Championship. They also just re-signed Evander Kane who had a great playoff. There’s no doubt that adding Tavares would be enough to make the Sharks legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
It’s going to be an interesting few days for the Tavares sweepstakes to unfold. NHL free agency doesn’t formally open until July 1st, so nothing will be official until then. However, all signs point to Tavares signing a long-term deal in the 8 figures by the time Sunday rolls around. Regardless of where he signs, John Tavares is about to be a very rich man on a very successful NHL team.