Call them the Original Six.
Six NHL teams — the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs — met or are meeting with John Tavares in Los Angeles this week before he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1.
And those are the only six teams in the running for his services, according to reports from The Athletic’s Arthur Staple and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Tavares’ current club, the Islanders, met with the 27-year-old center Monday, as did the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then came the Bruins and Sharks on Tuesday, followed by the Lightning and Stars on Wednesday.
The winner of the “Tavares sweepstakes” will get a franchise forward who has scored 24 or more goals in each of his nine NHL seasons (all with New York) and who tallied 84 points in 82 games last season.
The Islanders have a financial leg up in the race: They can offer Tavares an eight-year maximum contract, while other clubs are capped at seven-year deals. But a report surfaced Monday that San Jose may be a favorite to sign Tavares, while Boston represents an enticing landing spot for the star center.
When will we know who comes out on top? NHL free agency officially begins at noon Sunday, so it could be a matter of days.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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