If John Tavares is going to leave the New York Islanders, the Sharks reportedly may be in the driver's seat.
Should Tavares decide to officially become a free agent, “[it's] believed” his top choices, in order, are San Jose and his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, according to Arthur Staple of The Athletic. Tavares will inform the Islanders whether or not he intends to re-sign, on an eight-year deal worth up to $100 million, on Friday.
The 27-year-old was impressed by owner and SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner’s presence as the Sharks made their pitch on Tuesday, The Athletic's Craig Custance reported. Plattner, who was seen at a practice earlier this season, rarely makes public appearances
Tavares has until 9 p.m. PT on Saturday to sign an eight-year deal with the Islanders. He can first sign with a new team on Sunday 12 hours later.
Should he reach free agency, Tavares would become the best player to hit the open market in at least a decade. Since the 2009 No. 1 pick came into the league that fall, he is fifth in goals (272) and ninth in points (621). Joe Pavelski (259 goals) and Joe Thornton (585 points) are the only current Sharks in the top 15 of either category.
San Jose currently has around $19 million in salary cap space for next season, according to CapFriendly. The maximum the team can offer Tavares is $15.9 million annually, or 20 percent of next season's salary cap. The Sharks still need to sign restricted free agents Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney to new deals, and reportedly intend to re-sign Thornton.