The list hasn’t been whittled down officially, but according to Arthur Staple, if John Tavares chooses free agency over the New York Islanders he might just have his top two. The San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s all we’ve heard (and said) for a year, will John Tavares stay with the New York Islanders? Or will he go to free agency and play somewhere else for the first time in his NHL career? Will he return home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
It’s closing in and we still don’t have any indication if Tavares will stay with the team that drafted him first overall in 2009 or leave. He’s heard from five other teams and the Islanders. And we’re told he’s now mulling over his options before coming to a decision.
We don’t know which way he’s leaning, but according to Arthur Staple, Tavares might have his top two non-Long Island-based destinations figured out.
Arthur Staple wrote for The Athletic*, that the two leading teams should Tavares chose to leave the only NHL club he’s ever known are the Sharks and Leafs. In that order.
*The Athletic articles are paywall locked
"Tavares reportedly was impressed by the thorough pitches from all six teams: The Leafs, Islanders, Sharks, Bruins, Lightning and Stars. It’s believed that, should Tavares walk away from the Isles, it’s the Sharks and Leafs at Nos. 1 and 2 on his list"
What’s important to remember here is these two franchises are one and two on Tavares’ list if he decides to leave the New York Islanders. An outcome we’ve all often heard probably won’t happen.
Both markets make sense. The Sharks have all the advantages of Long Island except it stays warm in the winter there. And Toronto is easily in win now mode, and it’s also home. Hearing that he’s even given other teams a thought is tough to hear, even if it means absolutely nothing.
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The Islanders should still remain at the top of his list. They have talent now and in the years to come. They have a management team that is a proven winner. And for most of the year, Long Island is home for Tavares. The Islanders are still the favorites.