By: Jack Fenty
Today being June 1st means only one thing, John Tavares will be signing a long-term deal with a team one month from today. There have been hundreds of different reports and opinions on where Tavares will end up. Today I am here to tell you no one really knows where John will go as of now, because he has been very private with the matter, but we can make assumptions where he may end up.
I think every single team will try to make a play for JT because that is what teams do when a huge free-agent hits the market. In the NHL it is rare for star players to explore their options, so teams will take advantage of the opportunity. Obviously, only one team in the end will sign JT. In my opinion there are four teams besides the New York Islanders that have a real chance in getting him. Those four are the Knights, Leafs, Devils, and Sharks.
Knights: We all are witnessing greatness from the Vegas Knights playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season as an organization and the good times will most likely keep rolling. Vegas has many picks in the upcoming draft and more importantly regarding the Tavares situation they have a lot of cap space to sign free agents. According to CapFriendly.com the Knights have $24,833,334 in projected cap space going into next season. With that being said, the Knights still need to potentially sign William Karlsson to a deal. The Knights could potentially have Tavares centering the first line and “Wild Bill” centering the second line, what a one-two punch that would be. The only thing that I am hesitant about is that JT is not the fastest player and that is the style Vegas likes to play.
Leafs: Just about every Canadian reporter and Leafs fan believes John Tavares is coming home to play for Toronto. The Leafs do have $22,342,500 in projected cap space for next year according to CapFriendly. While it would be a nice story for JT to return home and lead the Leafs to the Stanley Cup I just do not see it happening. The reason being is JT is a very quiet and private player, JT does not want to be in the bright lights of Toronto. I have seen this guy being interviewed by three reporters and he does not feel comfortable at all, he would not fit in well with 50 media members asking him questions. Sorry to break your hearts Leafs fans.
Devils: A team that is on the rise after making a surprise run to make the playoffs this season, New Jersey is projected $19,898,333 going into next season. JT would nicely slide into the first line center role with Hall and Palmeri on his wings. This line would no doubt be one of the best in the league. Nico Hischier would be a perfect second line center for years to come for the Devs. New Jersey also is not a place with immense pressure and the media is not harsh, so it could be a nice landing spot for Tavares.
Sharks: For me San Jose getting John Tavares is my dark-horse. JT may be sick of the winters in New York and Toronto and might want to try something new in beautiful California. Also, San Jose has been in the playoffs 13 out of their last 14 seasons and made the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago against the Penguins. If JT went to the Sharks they would be locked and loaded to make a run for the cup in the 2018-19 season. The center depth of this team would be unreal with Tavares, Pavelski, and Couture.
Islanders: Ahhh, now my team the New York Islanders. As a fan of the team it is sad I have to even write this blog because JT should have been locked up months ago. That has not happened, so here I am writing this blog...The real question is why would JT want to sign with the Islanders? A team that has missed the playoffs four times in their last 14 seasons. I have three answers to this question; John is a very loyal guy who wants to lead this team to win and feels he owes the organization to lead them to the cup, the emergence of Mat Barzal, and lastly Lou Lamoriello become president of hockey ops. While I do think JT would be crazy to sign with a team that doesn’t really have a direction and has three different arenas, but my percentage JT will sign with the Isles is…70 percent!
Overall, this next month will be crazy regarding rumors involving where JT may end up. I am hoping he stays with the Islanders, but we just don’t know at this point.
Follow @NHLNosebleed for more!