TORONTO – The Maple Leafs have landed their man.
Tavares has agreed to terms on a seven-year, $77 million contract, including a full no-move clause, with Toronto.
Reeling in the big fish from this year’s free agent class, Toronto is bringing center John Tavares into the fold with a seven-year contract announced on Sunday. It will be just the second NHL club Tavares has ever played for after being selected first overall by the New York Islanders in 2009 and spending the entirety of his nine-year career to date there.
Tavares released a series of statements on his Twitter feed Sunday afternoon to thank the Islanders’ organization and say he was going to “live out my childhood dream” in a “calculated leap of faith” by signing with Toronto.
The Leafs were one of six teams in contention for Tavares’ services, each of which the 27-year-old met with in Los Angeles last week. After several days of deliberation and consideration over pitches from Toronto, Dallas, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Boston and the Islanders, the Toronto-area native decided to hop on board with his hometown team.
Not everyday you can live a childhood dream pic.twitter.com/YUTKdfMALl
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
Slotting into a lineup that already includes Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri down the middle, Tavares’ addition gives the Leafs a formidable trio of centres to stack up with any team in the league.
Despite the Islanders finishing outside the playoff picture last season, Tavares still put together a terrific individual campaign with 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists) in 82 games, and has operated at nearly a point-per-game pace over the course of his career (621 points in 669 games).
He will also make the Leafs power play even more potent. That unit was second in the league last season (25 per cent), and the addition of Tavares should only help to see that continue.
Still unknown in the initial aftermath of the Tavares signing is whether he will also take over the Leafs’ vacant captaincy.
It’s been two years since Dion Phaneuf was traded to Ottawa and the Leafs haven’t named another captain since, but it was rumored during the courting process that Toronto brought a jersey to their meeting with Tavares’ number (91) and the captain’s “C.”