The John Tavares Sweepstakes is in full swing as the NHL prepares to head into Free Agency on July 1.
Tavares, who was the No. 1 overall pick by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft, has compiled 621 points (272 goals, 349 assists) in 669 career games, is a five-time All-Star selection, and helped New York to its first playoff series victory in 23 years (1993 First Round) during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tavares’ free agency decision has been looming over the organization for the better part of a year, and was a major storyline as both parties could not come to terms on a new contract heading into last season. If Tavares decides to test the open market for the first time in his career, he would be considered the most impactful free agent to hit unrestricted free agency in a quite a number of years.
According to multiple reports, Tavares is expected to announce if he intends to re-sign with the Islanders on Friday.
According to Stephen Ellison, the San Jose Sharks are Tavares’ preferred destination should he leave Long Island, but the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are also rumored to be in the mix. Toronto has long been considered Tavares’ “hometown” team, as he is from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. San Jose has an estimated $19 million in salary cap space, Tampa bay has roughly $5.3 million and Toronto has almost $25 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
According to TSN Insider and The Athletic columnist Pierre LeBrun, Tavares has already informed a few teams that they are out of the running:
Here are the updated odds on which team will sign Tavares, according to OddsShark:
The Islanders, who would undoubtedly be hurting following the departure of their No. 1 center, have made specific moves this offseason to help ease the burden and improve the health of the organization moving forward.
The first move was to name former Devils and Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello as President of Hockey Operations, and the second was to hire Barry Trotz as head coach — two weeks following Trotz leading the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
So, will Tavares follow in the footsteps of LeBron James? We shall find out soon.