John Tavares will use next week’s free agency “discussion” period to speak with as many as five teams before deciding whether to re-sign with the New York Islanders, the team he has been associated with since being drafted first overall in 2009. Expected teams include the Los Angeles Kings, who just reached terms with Ilya Kovalchuk, and Toronto Maple Leafs, who are supposed to be a destination because Taranna.
This had been the expectation as the free agency flirtation window neared, but it was confirmed by multiple parties on Saturday, the second day of the 2018 NHL draft.
It also doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going elsewhere.
Reaching this window has sounded like a priority — and potential negotiating tactic — for much of the past year, even as the Islanders reached a deal on a new arena in Belmont, an arrangement to play many games at Nassau Coliseum (Tavares’ reportedly preferred venue), and then even overhauled management and coaching by replacing Garth Snow and Doug Weight with Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.
The oft-cited example here is Tavares’ friend Steven Stamkos, who reached this window a couple of years ago and heard from the “hometown” Toronto Maple Leafs, among others, before re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tavares has earned this, it makes personal sense for someone who holds all the cards, and — beyond anything else — can frankly be an interesting experience as he sees what other teams blueprints look like.
Hell, maybe he even grabs some competitive intelligence out of it and takes it back to Lou.
Technically, by rule the discussion window is not supposed to include talk of salary or term; yet somehow every player/agent who engages in it seems to have contract terms worked out at 12:01 on July 1.
So if Tavares will know exactly what he’s going to get, wherever he signs, the moment July 1 arrives (or sooner, if he re-ups with the Islanders).
Pat Brisson, agent for John Tavares, confirms that his client will use the UFA speaking period to chat with 5 teams— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 23, 2018
As mentioned in here from last night, Tavares' list of visitors on Monday/Tuesday will almost certainly include TOR, SJ and DAL. TBL may be in there too. LAK, after signing Kovalchuk, likely out. Perhaps VGK gets in there. https://t.co/pIe8CyCKwz— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) June 23, 2018
I am told (though not by agent or NYI) that Tavares will meet with five teams during interview period that opens tomorrow. Rangers are not among them.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 23, 2018
Even with Tavares taking these meetings, just about everyone around the league feels he's going back to #Isles.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) June 23, 2018
Exactly. Ultimately at the end of the day, he's earned the right to get paid. This is a huge leverage point for him. But, as we know, for the Islanders the official deadline is Saturday. Once that 8th year goes away on 7/1, he's gone. So... final week incoming... https://t.co/uTygIM0JYy— Lou York Islanders (@habermetrics) June 23, 2018
The discussion window begins Sunday. Tavares cannot sign with any team other than the Islanders — the only team that can offer him eight instead of seven years — until July 1.
One way or another, our long encyclopedic nightmare will soon be over and we can get on with the business of the hockey team trying to return to glory.