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The Tavares Sweepstakes

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The Tavares Sweepstakes

John Tavares will become the biggest name on the market when his Islanders deal expires (Courtesy of Twitter).

John Tavares will become the biggest name on the market when his Islanders deal expires (Courtesy of Twitter).

John Tavares will become the biggest name on the market when his Islanders deal expires (Courtesy of Twitter).

John Tavares will become the biggest name on the market when his Islanders deal expires (Courtesy of Twitter).


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By Peter Valentino

John Tavares will become the biggest name on the market when his Islanders deal expires (Courtesy of Twitter).

Every offseason, there is one star player who goes into free agency that attracts the eyes of the hockey world. A few years ago it was Steven Stamkos, and last year it was Kevin Shattenkirk. This year, it will be center John Tavares from the Islanders, and with the situation they are in, it is uncertain whether he will be back or not. The Islanders probably will not be getting a hometown discount for Tavares, yet their new arena will make the team more appealing, but the team needs defense and can afford to lose him with the rise of Matthew Barzal. Here are five other teams that will be interested in the center.

Montreal: A lot of cynical Islanders fans already think it is predestined that he ends up here. With the massive amount of cap space they have, as well as their need for scoring, Tavares could definitely end up there. However, there will be talk within Tavares’s circle about whether or not this team can compete anymore, and they probably can. Bergevin has handled the rebuild about as poorly as he can (Subban for Weber, anyone?) and they are one of those teams who can compete just on their goaltender alone with Price. Add a scorer and Montreal is back to the playoffs, but can they compete for the Cup? This may make Tavares feel like he’s returning to Brooklyn.

Buffalo: If Okposo can leave Long Island for Buffalo, why can’t Tavares? The team is looking for a kickstarter to a young, underdeveloped and undisciplined team. With Tavares, the Sabres would have a leader that could groom their young core. It’s a longshot considering where this team is, and could change depending on draft position, but Tavares could be a huge and immediate boon for a team in desperate need of a winning season.

Carolina: Tampa has Steven Stamkos as their star and leader in a southern hockey franchise, as do the Stars with Jamie Benn. Add Tavares into the Hurricanes’ lineup, and the team could have the star that not only can keep them in the playoffs for the next five years, but can also help them compete for a cup as well. While the team still needs to figure out their goaltender situation, their cap is still very low and indicates that they are waiting to sign someone. The Hurricanes ending up with Tavares not only would mean a lot to the team, but would give the organization a star – and ticket-seller – for the future.

New York Rangers: I would not have believed this a few years ago, but the team is shedding salaries like crazy after falling off a cliff this season. The team is young and inexperienced on defense and has a gaping hole at center that was not filled after the Stepan trade this offseason. They aren’t frontrunners by any stretch, but the team is desperate to try to get Henrik a cup before his contract is up in a few years. Keep an eye on them come July 1.

St. Louis: The team came to the last day of the season before getting bounced, and quite frankly, they probably didn’t want to be in the playoffs after trading away Paul Stastny to a division rival. But that move did open up the door for them to take on a large contract like Tavares’s will be. I expect them to try to compete for Tavares this offseason.

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