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Tavares will talk to five teams other than Islanders: report

Stars, Bruins, Sharks, Maple Leafs, Lightning to meet with pending unrestricted free agent center

by Mike Battaglino / Staff Writer

John Tavares will meet with the New York Islanders and five other teams in Los Angeles this week before possibly becoming an unrestricted free agent, TSN reported Monday.

The 27-year-old center will meet with the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as the Islanders, who are trying to re-sign him. Tavares was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Islanders and has been their captain since 2013-14.

He can become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday. The maximum contract he can receive from any team other than the Islanders is seven years; New York can offer him eight years and can sign him at any time.

Tavares will speak over the phone to an additional two or three teams, who could then earn an in-person meeting, TSN said.

Tavares, second on the Islanders in goals (37) and points (84) this season, has scored at least 30 goals in three of the past four seasons. Center Mathew Barzal, who won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year, led New York with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists), and forward Anders Lee was the Islanders' top goal scorer with an NHL career-high 40.

Video: Discussing John Tavares' meetings during free agency

New York has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs three times in Tavares' nine seasons with the Islanders. The last came in 2016, when his goal in double overtime of Game 6 in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Florida Panthers gave the Islanders their first series victory since 1993.

Pat Brisson, Tavares' agent, told The Athletic on Saturday that Tavares would speak with five teams.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello reportedly flew with Brisson to Los Angeles, where the meetings will be held at the offices of CAA Hockey.

"I have no disappointment, no discouragement," Lamoriello said Saturday of Tavares meeting with other teams. "I think that he's earned every right to make whatever choice he has. The most important thing is, we hope that the decision is to be an Islander.

"There's been a commitment from ownership, Scott Malkin, that he wanted this franchise to be the best in the National Hockey League, and he gave me the authority to go out and do whatever's necessary to do that. And the first decision certainly was to get a coach. And in my opinion, we got one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League (Barry Trotz, who was hired Thursday). Now we have to do is certainly convince our player that this is the right situation for him. But he has to make that decision."

Lamoriello was hired as Islanders president and then took over as general manager June 5 after Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight were fired. Lamoriello said then that the GM and coaching change had nothing to do with Tavares, who could have re-signed with New York starting last July 1.

"This is obviously where I hope to be. I've always stated that," Tavares said April 9, two days after the Islanders' season ended. "But obviously, I have some time to think about my situation and go from there.

"I've loved it here. The people have really embraced me, the team, the organization. It's been first class since I've gotten here. There's obviously some great talent and some great things ahead. Definitely a lot of positives. I'll obviously have to take some time and figure out what I want to do and go from there."

Tavares has 621 points (272 goals, 349 assists), fifth in Islanders history and the most of any player who wasn't part of New York's four consecutive Stanley Cup championship teams from 1980-83. He has led the Islanders in scoring in seven of his nine NHL seasons and has finished no lower than second.

Tweet from @PierreVLeBrun: Confirmed teams that John Tavares will meet with this week at CAA offices in L.A.: Dallas, Boston, San Jose, Toronto, Tampa (plus of course NYI). The Tavares camp will also have conversations with 2-3 other teams over the phone and perhaps also meet with 1-2 of them.

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