According to multiple reports, Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft and top free agent in the NHL this offseason, will meet with five teams, including the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks. The Athletic reported Tavares would also meet with the Toronto Maple Leafs. TSN (Canada) reported the Boston Bruins were among the suitors, but did not confirm details. The Athletic reported Boston is among the five teams seeking meetings with the free agent.
Tavares, 27, can receive a maximum seven-year contract from other teams, or sign an eight-year deal if he opts to return to the Islanders.
Tavares had 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists) last season and could have re-signed with the Islanders at any time after last July 1.
“This is obviously where I hope to be. I’ve always stated that,” Tavares said two days after the regular season ended. “But obviously, I have some time to think about my situation and go from there. I’ve loved it here. The people have really embraced me, the team, the organization. It’s been first class since I’ve gotten here. There’s obviously some great talent and some great things ahead. Definitely a lot of positives. I’ll obviously have to take some time and figure out what I want to do and go from there.”
New general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz expect to have extensive contact with Tavares in hopes of selling him on the new vision of the franchise. Lamoriello said the franchise is not frustrated or concerned that Tavares chose to shop his services on the open market.
“I think that he’s earned every right to make whatever choice he has. The most important thing is, we hope that the decision is to be an Islander,” Lamoriello said.
Meetings with teams will reportedly take place in Los Angeles at CAA Hockey offices.
“There’s been a commitment from ownership, Scott Malkin, that he wanted this franchise to be the best in the National Hockey League, and he gave me the authority to go out and do whatever’s necessary to do that,” Lamoriello said. “And the first decision certainly was to get a coach. And in my opinion, we got one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League (Trotz, who was hired last week). Now we have to do is certainly convince our player that this is the right situation for him. But he has to make that decision.”
–Field Level Media