John Tavares is officially a Toronto Maple Leaf.
This according to a report from Sportsnet analyst and NHL insider Elliotte Friedman:
MORE to come on this as it becomes available.
The Leafs have officially confirmed the news through their PR Twitter account:
The @MapleLeafs have agreed to terms with free agent forward John Tavares on a seven-year contract. The annual average value of the contract is $11 million. #TMLtalk
Tavares himself issued a statement through his own Twitter account:
He also included this childhood photo:
How cool is that!?
Tavares, of course, has been rumored to be signing with the Leafs for months now but it was believed that his former team, the New York Islanders, as well as the San Jose Sharks had the inside track on inking him long-term. The Leafs, Tavares' hometown team, have been in the mix all along, but with high priced extensions for players like William Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the horizon, it was believed that the Leafs were a "secondary" contender in the Tavares sweepstakes. The Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars were also reportedly in the mix to land Tavares. In the end, however the pull of playing for his hometown proved too strong for Tavares to deny.
The Leafs also waved goodbye to UFA forwards James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak today, but the Tavares signing should no doubt help soften the blow for Leafs fans. With Tavares, Matthews and Nazem Kadri down the middle now, the Leafs boast perhaps the very best center ice position in the entire NHL.
The speculation now is that Tavares will be named the Leafs' next captain, but Sportsnet insider John Shannon claims that's not the case... at least not yet.
Read below for the official release on the Tavares signing from the Leafs' official website:
So... how do you feel, Leafs fans? Do the Leafs now boast the best offence in the entire NHL? Are they ready to realistically compete for a Stanley Cup in 2018-19 and beyond? Or, do they need making tweaking? In particular on the back end?