John Tavares chose not to sign with the Sharks at the start of free agency on Sunday, and instead signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares and the Leafs agreed to a seven-year, $77 million deal.
Shortly after the news broke, Tavares posted two notes on Twitter.
San Jose was one of six teams, including Toronto, that met with the now-former New York Islanders captain and agent Pat Brisson at CAA headquarters in Los Angeles earlier this week. Owner Hasso Plattner, general manager Doug Wilson, and head coach Peter DeBoer were among the participants that tried to sell the 2009 No. 1 overall pick on coming to the Bay Area.
The pitch reportedly impressed Tavares, and he was believed to have the Sharks and Maple Leafs atop his list of destinations if he chose not to re-sign with the Islanders, The Athletic's Arthur Staple wrote on Thursday. Once the deadline for Tavares to sign an eight-year contract extension came and went, however, the Leafs were the apparent frontrunners, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported early Sunday morning.
Last week, Wilson appeared to prepare for the possibility of signing the 27-year-old. San Jose bought out veteran defenseman Paul Martin's contract and traded winger Mikkel Boedker to the Ottawa Senators, clearing nearly $7 million in salary cap space. That gave the Sharks about $19 million to play with headed into free agency, according to CapFriendly.
Now, the Sharks will have to turn to other options. Wilson told reporters (via The Athletic) before the NHL Draft that San Jose was "positioned really well to be pretty active in adding another piece," but did not rule out sitting on his cap space headed into the season.
Meanwhile, Tavares will play in his hometown, and alongside what is arguably the best core of young players in the NHL, one that includes Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. He'll also play alongside a face familiar to Sharks fans: Patrick Marleau, who opted not to return to San Jose last summer and signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Maple Leafs.
Tavares, Marleau, and the Leafs will make their only visit to SAP Center next season on Nov. 15.