Brace yourselves, NHL fans: The John Tavares sweepstakes are upon us.

The 27-year-old center, who has been the face of the New York Islanders for the last nine seasons, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. And he reportedly plans to meet with at least five teams in the near future, including the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, among others.

However, it’s a Western Conference squad that looks like the early favorite to land Tavares, FOX Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reported Monday.

Tavares, of course, would be a major addition for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Thornton’s best days clearly are behind him at 38 years old. Adding Tavares not only would represent a passing of the torch, but also would ensure the Sharks don’t slip in a conference that’s loaded with talented teams.

Tavares has racked up 272 goals and 349 assists through nine NHL seasons, all with the Islanders. Last season might have been his best, however: He scored 37 goals and dished out 47 assists while playing in all 82 games.

Although Tavares has made five All-Star teams, he is a minus-42 for his career. Still, he is undeinably the best free agent available this summer and likely will be worth the massive contract that’s headed his way.

Thumbnail photo via Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports Images