Though we’d heard reports about several teams that were expected to get meetings with superstar free agent John Tavares, the entire situation wasn’t clear. Now, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and Darren Dreger of TSN report at nearly the same moment that the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning all have sit down meetings scheduled over the next few days, while two or three other teams will have discussions over the phone. LeBrun notes that those phone conversations could turn into face-to-face meetings, while the Islanders obviously remain in the mix for their captain.
Interestingly, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports that the Montreal Canadiens attempted to get a meeting with Tavares, but were refused. The Canadiens are not part of the current discussions.
Tavares would arguably be the best unrestricted free agent to hit the market in the salary cap era if he remains unsigned on July 1st, but it’s not like that is a guarantee at this point. In fact, it may still be incredibly unlikely for the 27-year old center to leave the Islanders but after waiting this long it made sense to at least listen to the other offers. We saw this same song and dance two years ago with Steven Stamkos, before the Tampa Bay Lightning—or perhaps an overt-the-top pitch from another team—eventually convinced their captain to stay put.
We’ve already seen John Carlson, the consensus second-best pending free agent re-sign with the Washington Capitals for huge money, and Tavares could be next. If he does end up staying in New York, it would mean only good things for Paul Stastny who would likely become the next best option by default. Tyler Bozak, Derek Ryan and others are also available at center, but Stastny would be the only real prize left down the middle. If the rest of the NHL is closely watching the meetings in Los Angeles, Stastny may be camped outside the CAA offices waiting for his big opportunity.