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Breaking Down John Tavares’ Potential Landing Spots

The time has come. It’s time for the NHL’s version of “The Decision”, except for there won’t be 24/7 television coverage of it. The Free Agency courting period, where Free Agents can speak to other teams prior to being able to sign on July 1, began on Sunday, and John Tavares had started his process. If he makes it July 1st, he will be the biggest free agent in NHL history, and a contract will be 7 years, and upwards of 12 million per year.

JT’s camp has narrowed his list down to five teams, plus the Islanders. Lets see break down each team as a fit for Tavares. But we must consider, what does this article mean for the Leafs?

 

San Jose Sharks

Why Tavares would go to San Jose:

The Sharks are going all in for JT. The were the middle man in the Mike Hoffman movement that sent him from Ottawa to San Jose for Mikkel Boedker’s 4 million dollar contract, then from San Jose to Florida for picks. They have almost 19 million in cap space with just 8 players signed for the 19/20 season, and just 4 for the 20/21 season. Living in sunny California isn’t the worst situation either. It’s a great cap situation, and they want him. They really want him.

Why he wouldn’t:

The Sharks probably aren’t as close to winning the Cup as other teams on his list. They’ll be good, as they always are and could win a round or two, but they’re not in the upper echelon of Stanley Cup favorites, maybe even with Tavares. If the Sharks don’t add any more, Tavares would likely be playing between Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski or Timo Meier. Great players, and nothing against them, but he can find better linemates elsewhere.

Can they make it work?

Hockey players love to be wanted and are very loyal, so the Sharks can sell him on how bad they want him and how he’s the piece that would push the Sharks into the upper tear of Stanley Cup favorites, along with living in the Bay area. Ultimately, he probably has better options if he’s trying to win.

 

Dallas Stars:

Why Tavares would go to Dallas:

Dallas is an exciting, warm weather city. The Stars have a really strong core of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alex Radulov, and John Klingberg. With nearly $20 million in cap space, the Stars would still have room to add much needed depth.

Why he wouldn’t:

If he’s looking for a big hockey market, Dallas isn’t the place to go. The Stars are also probably the furthest team away from winning a Stanley Cup besides the Islanders, so if looking to win immediately, he has better options than Dallas, because they’re defense is Not Great.

Can they make it work?

I’d say Dallas is probably the biggest longshot, but hey, who knows. Dallas should be a good team, but unless they can add some more depth pieces and a defenseman, there are better teams for Tavares if he wants to win a Cup.

 

Boston Bruins

Why Tavares would go to Boston:

The Bruins have the best mix of win-now and a bright future of any teams in the hunt. Adding Tavares to an already Cup Contending Bruins team might put them over the top as a cup favorite. Tavares would have the opportunity to play between Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak, which would move David Krejci to the 3rd line between the likes of Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato, or Anders Bjork. Boston gives JT the best chance to win a cup (or cups) in the latter years of the contract.

Why he wouldn’t:

Besides the Bruins being a good team, Tavares really has no connection to Boston. He’s probably friends with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand from team Canada, but there is not connection to the city or the team like the Leafs. The Bruins really have to push the hockey side of life on him if they want him to sign.

Can they make it work?

Don Sweeney would have some cap finagling to do, but it’s possible, as the Bruins are lucky to have one of the better cap situations in the league. They could make it work for the 2018-19 season with nothing but maybe a minor move, but after that it gets tough. The Bruins would almost certainly have to trade a prospects/pick package along with David Backes to get his $6 million cap hit out of town, and likely would have to deal David Krejci and his $7.25 million cap hit, as the team has to sign RFAs Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen, and Ryan Donato. However, it shouldn’t stop the Bruins from pursuing Tavares, or Tavares signing in Boston.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Why Tavares would go to Tampa:

Tampa is currently one of the best teams in the league, and gives Tavares the best short term opportunity to win a cup. Adding Tavares would absolutely make Tampa the best team in the league, and would give them a top 3 center duo of Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Tavares for 6 years. Anything short of a cup would be disappointing for the Bolts, and would make them an absolute power house. He’d have the luxury of playing between Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Yanni Gorde and JT Miller depending on what coach John Cooper decides to do.

Why he wouldn’t:

This is sort of the Kevin Durant route. If Tavares wants a challenge, he won’t choose Tampa. Tampa would have worse cap finagling than the Bruins would too, possibly leading to losing Nikita Kucherov, and some of the Lightning’s top defensemen. 4 of their top 6 dmen are UFA after 2019, and could have the Lightning fall a tier from the NHL’s cream of the crop.

Could the make it work?

The could give it one all in year in 2019, then have some serious maneuvering to do. Similar to Boston, they could do it, however. They give JT the best chance to win right now, and Stamkos, Point, and Tavares down the middle will keep them in relative contention for years, no matter who they’re forced to lose.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why Tavares would go to Toronto:

Toronto is Tavares’ hometown, so he has an obvious connection to the team he grew up rooting for. The leafs have one of the brightest futures in the NHL, with a big 3 of young stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. Playing for and winning a cup with the Leafs would fulfill a lifelong dream for Tavares, and might be too good to pass up.

Why he wouldn’t:

They actually might not be able to make it work with the cap. The rumors have floated around that the Leafs could offer him a max deal at 1 year, $15.9 million, but it seems unlikely he takes it. The Leafs are about to put  $20-25 million in resigning Matthews, Marner, and Nylander, and adding Tavares at 12 million to that might just be too much to build a team around. That’s not to say they can’t make it work, but it would be tougher than any other team. The media in Toronto could also be an issue. There wasn’t as much attention with the Islanders, and JT may want to stay out of the Toronto spotlight.

Can they make it work?

It would take some dramatic cap maneuvering, but it’s possible. Toronto being his hometown is a huge factor, and there’s actually a pretty decent chance he signs there because of that fact, and the fact that the Leafs have such a strong young core. The Leafs have an extremely smart front office lead by Kyle Dubas, and Toronto is a real possibility for JT.

 

New York Islanders

Why Tavares would stay in New York:

Hockey players a stupid loyal, and Tavares might want to stay loyal to the team that drafted him, and the place he’s grown up in. He knows the city, he lives there, all of his things are there, etc. Bringing in Lou Lamoriello as GM and Barry Trotz as coach certainly helps, and recent draft picks of Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and Bode Wilde give the team a future, along with rising star Mat Barzal. The Isles can also offer him the 8th year that other teams can’t.

Why he wouldn’t:

Man, why would you? The Isles are current splitting their home games between Nassau Coliseum and Barclay Center, which aren’t really that close to eachother. Ownership has changed multiple times recently, and they need a consistent place to play. Other teams offer a way better chance at winning a cup, and way better teammates to play with. Other teams may be able to offer more money than the Isles too.

Can they make it work?

Yes, and all that being said above, it might even be likely that he stays with the Islanders. It’s super boring if he does, but he might not want a change and want to help the team that drafted him win a cup. Boooooo.

 

The sweepstakes in full swing, and whoever gets the grand prize just will bring themselves a lot closer to winning a Stanley Cup than they are today.

 

Follow us on Twitter @TheINTsports, and me @jIabruins

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