The most coveted free agent of the 2018 summer John Tavares has now decided that he will speak with teams other than the New York Islanders during the free agency interview period, as first reported by TSN, and finally confirmed on Saturday by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period and Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
The report was then confirmed by Tavares' agent, Pat Brisson, as reported by NHL insider Pierre LeBrun.
Pagnotta added that one of the teams expected to meet with Tavares is the Vegas Golden Knights. The Toronto Maple Leafs are also reportedly going to meet with the star forward.
The 27-year-old star forward can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Of course Islanders fans want to see him stay with the team, which selected him first overall in the 2009 NHL Entry draft. Tavares has recorded 621 points (272 goals, 349 assists) in 669 games with New York and has been Islanders captain since the 2013-14 season.
The NHL free agency interview period kicks off on Sunday. A player can speak to teams and agree to terms but cannot sign until July 1. New York can offer Tavares an eight-year contract; other teams can offer seven years.
"Right now, until something is done, it's not done," Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said Friday at the draft. "There's no question he's a very important part of this organization and we want him to be here. We'll just have to wait. I'm not going to go any further."
Tavares may invite up to five teams to his agent's office in Los Angeles, TSN reported Friday, and according to Pagnotta and Brooks, the New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues have not been invited by the star forward.
Of course, the meetings with five other rival teams does not mean that Tavares has ruled out a return with the Islanders. The team is still believed to be in the mix, especially after landing Stanley Cup winning head coach Barry Trotz this past week.
"We talked about the team, areas that we feel that we can fix together, areas that we can look to improve upon, all those things," Trotz said Thursday. "It was a great conversation.
"If you know anything about John, he's as classy of a captain as you can have in the National Hockey League. He's passionate. He's very insightful, very intelligent. He has one goal, it's just to win. And I'm fortunate that we have the same vision, myself and Lou. We want to build something back on the Island.
"John has been a big piece for a long time, right? He wants to be a part of that as well."
Tavares is looking to compete for a Stanley Cup contender and it has been rumoured that the San Jose Sharks, who have been shedding salary, might be in the running.
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