While reports suggest that John Tavares and his representation are speaking to five teams in Los Angeles, there is some confusion of which teams Tavares’ camp is speaking to. It was reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars are three teams that are definitely meeting with him, while other teams such as Vegas and Tampa Bay have been suggested as possibilities.
The Maple Leafs have been interested in signing Tavares for a long time, years in fact. However, with the state of their salary cap in the coming years with contracts of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander on the books, there are a lot of questions whether the Maple Leafs are really true candidates to bring Tavares on board, especially after the team splurged a season ago when they pried Patrick Marleau away from San Jose.
The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) writes that trying to add a contract that at the moment is linked at $11MM per year for Tavares (possibly $12MM) might be challenging, but not totally impossible. Unlike two years ago, when they tried to sign Steven Stamkos when they were a struggling franchise, things are much different. For one, Tavares gets to come home, he can immediate play for a top team which has a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup, and lots of cap space in the first year of a contract, which is where the discussion ends.
Mirtle suggests one rumor that has been going around for week is to offer Tavares a one-year max deal, which would be worth $15.9MM. Then the team could attempt to lock him up to an eight-year deal after that. However, that could also be construed as cap circumvention as well as dangerous if Tavares gets injured in that first year. Another offer Toronto could add to the package is the captaincy, but that would also be an issue considering that Matthews has been in line for that role.
- David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period confirms that the San Jose Sharks were the second team to speak with Tavares and his representatives. He writes that the Sharks are all-in on Tavares and the entire organization is on board to bring Tavares in. With more than $18MM in cap space, the Sharks have the money even after locking up winger Evander Kane to a seven-year, $49MM extension last month. With their defense and goaltending, alongside Tavares, Kane, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski as well as a bunch of talented younger players that are ready to break out, the Sharks would look like a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
- Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports writes that while there is no word yet, the scribe gets the sense that the Boston Bruins haven’t been told yet whether they are one of the five teams that Tavares will meet with, but Boston definitely wants a meeting with the center. Boston has almost $12MM of cap space available and a team that is full of both veterans and young stars in which the addition of Tavares could take them to that Stanley Cup level as well.