As November is coming to a close, John Tavares has yet to sign an extension with the New York Islanders. As every month continues to pass, the likelihood of Tavares staying a member of the Islanders will keep on decreasing and he very well could end up traded. For those of you who are not aware, John Tavares is an unrestricted free agent this season and will receive one of the biggest contracts of this decade. The Islanders need to figure out what to do with their franchise player because at the end of the day, they know they cannot lose him for nothing. That would be extremely detrimental for them and would inevitably lead them to another rebuild.
With that said, in this article, we will be looking at eight teams who are in the running to acquire John Tavares and seven who have no chance. It is important to note that (for the purpose of this article) we will be looking at scenarios if Tavares decides not to resign with the Islanders. Also, Tavares most likely will be going to a team that he knows either has a bright future or a contending team that is heading in the right direction. Tavares is still young enough to be at the top of the league, but like all professional hockey players, he wants to someday win the Stanley Cup. That may never happen for him as a member of the New York Islanders.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at where Tavares may end up and where he definitely won’t be playing.
15 In The Running: San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are one of the most interesting teams in the NHL because of their star power on offence. Veterans Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have been doing a solid job this season, despite both dealing with nagging injuries. Yet, it is absolutely apparent that the Sharks are getting older and they could use a superstar to take some of the load of their best players.
With that said, it is easy to believe that the San Jose Sharks would look to acquire John Tavares. The Sharks’ Stanley Cup window is continuing to shrink every season that passes and they definitely could use Tavares to fix that. The Sharks should heavily pursue Tavares because it could finally give them the star power to get their first Stanley Cup in the history of the franchise.
14 No Chance: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off of back to back Stanley Cup championships, so it is easy to believe that any hockey player would love to play for them. Superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still have plenty of solid NHL seasons left, along with their amazing depth as well. With that, the Penguins seem to have their roster all figured out and very well could win again soon.
With that said, it is hard to believe that the Penguins would pursue John Tavares via trade or during the free agency period. The Penguins already have enough forward depth up front and there is no way that they would be able to afford another superstar’s contract on their roster. Tavares would help them a lot for sure, but the salary cap era will make that entirely impossible.
13 In The Running: Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames have a very solid roster and are definitely on the upswing in the NHL. The Flames are led by young superstars Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, and they truly have made a strong impact on their rebuilding phase. Today, it is easy to believe that the Flames are now a consistent playoff team and there is no reason for that to change anytime soon.
With all of this said, the Calgary Flames would be an excellent fit for John Tavares because they are moving in a positive direction. Also, the Flames definitely could use another superstar center down the middle and he could become the true leader of the hockey club. The Flames should look to acquire his services because he could end up being the star that carries them to the top of the league.
12 No Chance: Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are a very intriguing team because it is hard to determine if they should rebuild or move toward contention. The Bruins do have a handful of young stars in David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, as well as veterans Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but that has not carried them to playoff success. This year’s rough start shows this as well.
John Tavares (in theory) would be a great fit for the Boston Bruins because he could help them be a permanent playoff team. Yet, the idea of Tavares actually signing there is very small because of all the centre depth on the Bruins’ roster. Also, the Bruins tend to avoid signing superstars through free agency and opt to build through their prospect pool.
11 In The Running: Winnipeg Jets
Man, the Winnipeg Jets have completely transformed their roster and now are one of the league’s best. Young superstars like Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine are the main reasons behind this, along with veterans Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler. They are truly an offensive juggernaut who basically appear to be unstoppable. The best part about this is their core is still growing.
If the Winnipeg Jets want to permanently separate themselves from the rest of the pack, they should look to acquire John Tavares. The Jets could use another star centre down the middle and he could ultimately become their top player. The Jets would seriously qualify as potential champions by making a deal for him, so they should work to make it happen.
10 No Chance: Washington Capitals
This will be hard for Washington Capitals’ fans to hear, but the Capitals’ Stanley Cup window is closing very rapidly. After back to back President’s Trophies wins, the team still failed to win a Stanley Cup because they simply could not compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins. With that, the possibility of the Capitals winning a Stanley Cup during the Alexander Ovechkin era may be gone.
It is very unlikely that John Tavares would decide to play for the Capitals mainly for these reasons. Besides those examples, the Capitals also have no chance of getting Tavares because they are currently in a very bad financial state. Below average players, such as Brooks Orpik, are grossly overpaid and this will always be an issue for them until they learn to sign their players to better deals.
9 In The Running: St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are off to another fantastic start and many believe that this could finally be the year that they win. This past offseason, the Blues traded for Brayden Schenn and surprisingly, he has developed into an elite player in the process for them. With other stars like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo leading the charge, the Blues are a prime destination.
A potential trade to the St. Louis Blues makes a lot of sense for John Tavares because they are currently at the top of the NHL. The Blues also could possibly re-sign Tavares after the season ends, if he wants to continue playing there. The Blues could use another franchise player for their roster and with Tavares being available, they must consider bringing him in.
8 No Chance: Buffalo Sabres
It appears that the Buffalo Sabres just cannot get out of their rebuilding phase and this season is not providing any different. The Sabres are currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and have not seen much production from any other their players. Jack Eichel is even having a bit of a down year defensively, so it is apparent as to why the Sabres are struggling so badly.
With all that said, there is no way that John Tavares will leave the New York Islanders for the Sabres. The Sabres are in a worse spot than the Islanders, and if Tavares does decide to test free agency, he will go to a contending team. The Sabres simply do not have the tools to win and their rebuilding process has far more work to be done. Tavares will not be their answer.
7 In The Running: New York Rangers
Although the New York Rangers started the year very poorly, it is apparent that they are now playing far better. The Rangers still have the tools to be a contending team, but they desperately need to find a top center to replace Derek Stepan, who was traded to the Arizona Coyotes this past offseason. With this need fixed, the Rangers very well can turn their fortunes around.
John Tavares to the Rangers makes a lot of sense for a handful of reasons. First, the Rangers will be getting a lot of cap relief with Rick Nash’s contract ending after this season, so they can use it on Tavares. Also, the Rangers are still a team that can be a contender, so that could interest him. Playing for the Rangers would also keep Tavares in New York, which would make the transition of moving not difficult at all.
6 No Chance: Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are surprisingly putting together a very solid start to the season and very well could make the playoffs this season. The rise of Anthony Mantha is a very uplifting story because many had thought that he would never reach his potential. If the Red Wings keep this up, they will be moving in the right direction and that will be huge for the Original Six club.
Yet, with all the positives that are currently going on in Detroit, there is no way that they will acquire John Tavares anytime soon. The Red Wings have one of the worst salary cap issues in the NHL because they have far too many veterans on abysmal contracts. The Red Wings barely were able to keep some of their top young guns this offseason, so there is no way they can be big spenders on Tavares.
5 In The Running: Edmonton Oilers
Yikes. The Edmonton Oilers are back to being at the bottom of the NHL standings and that is truly shocking after how well they did last season. Nonetheless, their lack of depth and multiple terrible trades have caught up to them. The Oilers would be in a far better spot if they kept stars like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, but they now have to look toward fixing these issues.
The Edmonton Oilers are still a prime destination for any NHLer to join because of their young star, Connor McDavid. This alone could lure John Tavares to join the Oilers because they do have a bright future and it could allow the Oilers to have one of the best one-two punches in the entire league. The Oilers need to bring in another superstar forward and Tavares is their best option.
4 No Chance: Chicago Blackhawks
Is it officially okay to say that the Chicago Blackhawks are no longer in their dynasty stage? The Blackhawks are coming off two disappointing seasons and this year is already showing signs of being no different. The Blackhawks just cannot build a strong enough team around Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews because of the cap value they both possess. This will continue to hurt them for the foreseeable future.
John Tavares will definitely not be a member of the Chicago Blackhawks anytime soon. Tavares, in theory, could have been the player that saved the Blackhawks from falling out of contention, but this cannot be the case. There is no way that the Blackhawks will be able to compete with other NHL teams when it comes to their maximum offers, so this just will not happen.
3 In The Running: Toronto Maple Leafs
How can anyone not admire the way that the Toronto Maple Leafs have completely transformed their team? The rise of young superstars Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner has been one of the best stories for hockey fans to witness. The Maple Leafs are quickly building themselves as one of the best teams in the NHL and it will only get better from here.
John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs has been one of the biggest rumours in the NHL since last year and with that, they absolutely have a shot of acquiring the star. Financially it will require some retooling, but it would be worth it because they would get another franchise player. Tavares also is from the Toronto area, so it would likely be a dream come true to play for the Leafs as well.
2 No Chance: Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes had the worst start in NHL history this season and it is the complete opposite of what they wanted to do. The Coyotes had a huge offseason this summer when they acquired both Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers. With the growth of their young players and addition of proven veterans, this was supposed to be a turnaround season.
The Coyotes have absolutely no chance at acquiring John Tavares because they honestly can be considered as the worst overall franchise in the NHL. Their fan base is easily one of the lowest and it is mainly because of their location in Arizona. Hockey in the desert has been an utter failure in Arizona and that is why there are consistent rumours about them relocating. There is no way Tavares will want to be part of that.
1 In The Running: Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens have shocked the NHL this season and not in a good way. The Canadiens are currently at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and that is mainly because of the inconsistency and injury of Carey Price and their lack of defensive depth. The Canadiens clearly need a major shakeup to be a contender once again and it needs to happen now because their core players are nearing the end of their primes.
The Montreal Canadiens need a first line centre and John Tavares absolutely can be that guy. There have been many rumblings that the Canadiens want Tavares on their roster and it is easy to understand why. Tavares perfectly fits the type of player that the Canadiens love to have on their roster. The Canadiens have to figure out their issues to be relevant yet again and with Tavares on their team, it will turn their issues around.