The Boston Bruins failed in their pursuit of Ilya Kovalchuk, but might they have a bigger free-agent fish to fry?
John Tavares, 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 although the possibility remains the Islanders re-sign their franchise player, Tavares is planning to meet with five NHL teams, New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported Saturday.
So, the Rangers reportedly won’t be in on the Tavares sweepstakes — but what about the Bruins?
Boston general manager Don Sweeney was asked about Tavares on Saturday, and he certainly didn’t rule out a run at the Mississauga, Ontario, native.
Tavares, of course, will fetch a massive contract, regardless of which teams he signs with. The question is should the Bruins go all-in?
Through nine seasons (all with the Islanders), Tavares has racked up 272 goals and 349 assists, although he’s a minus-42 for his career. Last season, however, was one of his best: He scored 37 goals and dished out 47 assists while playing in all 82 games.
He never has scored fewer than 24 goals in a season, and his career-high is 38 goals in the 2014-15 season, a campaign that saw Tavares finish third in Hart Trophy (MVP) voting.
Tavares, without question, is one of the best players in the NHL, and the Bruins would be a better team with him in the fold. But throwing substantial money at one player might prevent Boston from re-signing some of its rising stars, such as Ryan Donato, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy, when they hit free agency.
Still, landing Tavares would send a clear message that the Bruins are focused on winning a Stanley Cup in the immediate future — a mindset that’s hard to criticize.
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