The Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms on a seven-year, $77 million contract with center John Tavares, per Elliotte Friedman. The deal comes with an annual cap hit of $11 million. This ends the TavaresWatch that has taken the hockey world by storm in recent weeks. Born in Missisauga, Ontario, Tavares is now playing for his hometown team.
When a player like Tavares becomes available on the open market, you can be assured that all 31 teams will have interest to varying degrees. While there was obvious interest in Tavares this offseason, the 27-year-old limited his options to only six teams – the New York Islanders and five other suitors who made their case to sign the star center in private meetings in Los Angeles.
Tavares has scored 272 goals and 621 points in 669 games. His performance on both ends of the ice is something to marvel at and it has made him one of the very best players in the entire NHL over his career. Once granted exceptional player status in the OHL and taken with the first-overall pick in the NHL in 2009, Tavares’ career has been nothing short of successful. It’s even featured a few gold medal wins with Canada. The exception to his career success, however, has been the postseason success – arguably the most important measure of success.
There are few players who can impact a game in the way that Tavares can and joining a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs who already have Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander in place who form the core of the team, Tavares’ should now be able to play a role on the team without feeling the pressure of carrying a team on his back by himself. The New York Islanders are at a turning point in their franchise and though the future looks very bright after an incredibly successful draft in 2018, it’s clear that Tavares felt his best option would be to join the Maple Leafs to try and complete his ambitions of winning a Stanley Cup
What This Means for Toronto
As was the case with all six teams bidding for Tavares throughout this period, the Maple Leafs are looking to win a Stanley Cup and are pulling out all the stops to do so. By adding Tavares, the team is adding a significant salary to their roster for the next seven years but with what Tavares brings to the table, that risk is worth the potential reward.
While young players on entry-level deals such as Matthews, Marner and Nylander are in place to help supplement Tavares’ hefty contract in the early stages, they could serve to complicate matters given the likelihood that the Maple Leafs will have to sign multiple young players to big and expensive contracts at some point. With Tavares’ contract on the table, that becomes significantly more difficult. With that in mind, Tavares is the type of player you sign first and ask questions later. If problems arise, the Maple Leafs and general manager Kyle Dubas will handle them.
In the end, there isn’t a single general manager who was involved in the discussion for Tavares who didn’t consider the long-term implications of this contract.
Statement From Tavares
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.