New York Islanders All-Star center and captain John Tavares will meet with six teams in Los Angeles between Monday and Wednesday, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
Along with the Islanders, the team that drafted him first-overall in 2009, the 27-year-old is scheduled to speak with the Dallas Stars, Tamp Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun added that the Boston Bruins will also get a meeting, but they will be a longshot as cap space could be an issue this summer.
Tavares does not become an official unrestricted free agent until Jul. 1, meaning a decision on where his future lays would likely come shortly after, but the overwhelming thought is that the Canadian will return to the New York.
The Islanders are already in Los Angeles waiting to meet with Tavares. Discussions about a long-term contract that would secure him in New York have been going on ever since new president and general manager Lou Lamoriello stepped in back in late May.
The 75-year-old has brought immediate credibility and a culture change to the mediocre franchise, firing long-time GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight and bringing in Barry Trotz behind the bench, fresh off winning a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.
New York would be the only team that could offer Tavares an eighth year on his contract, the max deal that other teams could over are capped at seven years. There have been unofficial rumors that the Islanders are offering an average of $11 million per year, which would make it an $88 million contract.
There is going to be plenty of attractive offers from other teams, regardless. The Maple Leafs have seemingly been coveting Tavares for the past two years as the young team, which was pieced together by Lamoriello over the past three years. With young phenoms in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Toronto put up a franchise record 105 points last season.
The Stars offer an offensive utopia for a player like Tavares. With playmakers in Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov —all recording more than 27 goals last season — Tavares would easily give the Stars the best offense in the Western Conference, if not the NHL, on paper.
But he would also do the same for the Lightning as Nikita Kucherov is coming off a 100-point season alongside the dangerous yet injury-riddled Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay had five players record 60 or more points last season.
Then come the Sharks, who have cleared enough cap space after trading Mikkel Boedker while starting to buy out Paul Martin to make a run at Tavares. Over the past 20 years, the Sharks have made the postseason 18 times which would give Tavares a leading role on a perennial contender. It’s something he’s never experienced with the Islanders, who have made the playoffs just three times in Tavares’ first nine seasons.