Unrestricted free agent John Tavares will hear out offers from five NHL teams this week leaving the New York Islanders to sit tight.
The Islanders captain announced via his agent that he intends to exercise his right to speak to other teams and will attend a series of meetings held in Los Angeles.
San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights and the Toronto Maple Leafs are widely believed to have a firm interest in Tavares and it would be of no surprise if they were amongst the five organisations he will meet. There is less certainty with regards to the other two teams although NHL insiders have suggested it will be neither the New York Rangers or the St. Louis Blues.
Whilst the fact that Tavares is listening to what other teams have to say won’t sit well with Islander fans, there is no need to be alarmed by these latest developments.
Tavares, who officially becomes a free agent on July 1, has said all along that he will take his time in making any decision and the next chapter of the 27-year-old’s career is going to have a huge bearing on his career. It is completely reasonable that he would want to consider all angles.
Tavares has long been in talks about extending his stay with the Islanders. The team is being build around him and he is an intrinsic part of the Islanders’ future as they head into a promising new era under GM Lou Lamoriello. The decision to appoint Stanley Cup winning head coach Barry Trotz is an indication of New York’s desire to challenge and will have no doubt been made with Tavares in mind.
Lamoriello left the weekend’s draft and travelled straight with Tavares’ agent Pat Brisson to Los Angeles. It has emerged that the Isles have now already formally lodged their first baseline contract offer, which depending on reports ranges between $88 – $96 million in value.
That is not a final ‘take it or leave’ off from the Islanders as they set out a benchmark figure, but merely an opener from their end of the negotiating table as to what the organisation believes he is worth before he talks with these other five teams.
After all the speculation, opinion and second-guessing, decision time is now looming for John Tavares, but there is no reason to think why we won’t see a repeat of the near identical circumstances to 2016’s headline UFA, Steve Stamkos, who spoke to other teams before agreeing a new contract with Tampa Bay Lightning.