No doubt about it, the spotlight is shining brightly on New York Islanders captain John Tavares these days. With just five days to go before the opening of free agency, there’s no one in the NHL generating as much buzz as Tavares. The pending free agent is free to meet with other teams to negotiate a contract over the next five days, but must wait until July 1st to officially ink a new deal.
It’s long been predicted that Tavares will test the free agent market, but analysts still haven’t count out the option that he’ll decide to stay on Long Island. Still, Tavares’ camp has confirmed that he’ll meet with at least six other clubs this week, effectively giving them the green light to woo him with contract negotiations and plans for the future. The San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs have factored into things for awhile now, as have the Islanders themselves, but up until yesterday we could only guess at who else might be making a pitch for Tavares in free agency.
Islanders insider Arthur Staple of The Athletic confirmed the Leafs, Sharks and Islanders rumblings before offering up another couple franchises: the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars.
Check it out:
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.
Interesting. So all that Montreal Canadiens buzz is out the window. Ditto for the Vegas Golden Knights. Following that report however, Staple updated the list to include two new teams:
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.
Crazy! So now we’re up to seven teams! Could you imagine a Stanley Cup contender like the Tampa Bay Lightning or Nashville Predators adding a superstar like Tavares into the mix?
What’s most interesting about all this is the fact that Staple is a rock solid Islanders insider and, in fact, has a personal relationship with Tavares. Most analysts still handicap the Tavares situation at a 50% stay (in Long Island) and 50% go type situation, so it’ll be interesting to see what he ultimately decides to do. You may recall two years ago that Lightning captain Steven Stamkos used the negotiation period prior to July 1st to effectively test the open market before re-upping with the Lightning on an eight year deal. Could Tavares be employing the same strategy? See what’s out there and use it as leverage against Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello? Time will tell.