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Breaking: A new frontrunner emerges in Tavares talks

Yet another team joins the frenzy on the opening morning of negotiations.

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As of this morning, pending free agent superstar John Tavares is free to discuss contractual terms with any NHL team he pleases. In other words, “Let the games begin!”

It’s worth noting however that, because NHL free agency doesn’t officially open until July 1st, Tavares must wait to sign any potential free agent deal. The New York Islanders captain is arguably the biggest free agent target in NHL history and as such he’s receiving quite a bit of interest around the league.

Islanders insider Arthur Staple of The Athletic confirmed last night that at least seven teams, including the Islanders themselves, are attempting to woo Tavares with negotiations this week. The teams in question: Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators.

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Tavares list just about finalized, it appears. 
Leafs, Sharks, Stars are in, as mentioned a couple days ago. Believe the Bruins are in as well.
Canadiens and Vegas not on the list as of now.
 Isles will get in there too, of course. 
Sounds like Tampa and/or Nashville could round out Tavares’ list of visitors starting Monday. Might end up being six teams instead of five, plus Isles.

This morning however, Sportsnet insider John Shannon is reporting that an additional two teams have entered the fray.

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There are up to 9 teams that will have a chance to talk with John Tavares and his camp. In addition to the NYI,  Boston, Dallas, SJ,Toronto,Tampa will meet with JT in Los Angeles.  Up to 3 more will have phone interviews. Meetings will take place today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

Interesting… if Shannon is correct then it looks like the Predators have dropped out and that the Los Angeles Kings have taken their place. Early rumblings have the Kings and Sharks as frontrunners, along with the Islanders themselves. But with meetings expected to take place between Tavares and all teams this week, it's far too early to handicap any team's chances.

It’s also worth noting that “up to 3” teams will have phone interviews with Tavares. Without knowing who those teams are, we can only speculate that the Montreal Canadiens, Vegas Golden Knights are perhaps one of the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks or Chicago Blackhawks get involved. Again… the league wide interest in Tavares as huge. As one would expect for a player of Tavares’ skill.