John Tavares Signs 7-Year, $77 Million Contract with Maple Leafs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2018

New York Islanders center John Tavares plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs and center John Tavares reached an agreement Sunday on a seven-year contract worth $77 million.  

Tavares confirmed his decision to leave the New York Islanders and live a "childhood dream" of playing for the Maple Leafs via a post on his Twitter account:

Toronto confirmed the terms of the agreement after Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet first reported the length of the contract. Darren Dreger of TSN reported Tavares "left millions on the table" to sign with the Maple Leafs as he was offered $13 million annually by other clubs.

David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period reported the San Jose Sharks offered more than $13 million per season, while the Islanders increased their offer from $11 million annually to $11.25 million.

Tavares has emerged as one of the league's most dangerous offensive players since the Islanders selected him with the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft.

The 27-year-old Canadian playmaker has scored 621 points (272 goals and 349 assists) in 669 games across his first nine seasons, which ranks ninth in the NHL over that stretch, per Hockey Reference.

He's coming off a terrific final year of his contract with the Isles to further set himself up for this offseason's monster payday. He tallied 37 goals and 47 assists for 84 points while appearing in all 82 of the team's regular-season games.

In April, Tavares told reporters he hoped to remain with the Islanders, but he also wanted to consider which options would give him the best chance to chase a championship.

"Obviously, it's a big decision," he said. "It's not an easy decision. I want to give myself the best opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, and I obviously want to do it here. So I hope it works out."

Along with his NHL success, which includes five All-Star Game selections, he also helped lead Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The Islanders' loss is the Leafs' gain. Tavares, who was the top free agent available on the market, will provide a major boost to the team's offense since he's still firmly in his peak seasons.

He should slot in as the second-line center behind Auston Matthews during his debut campaign in Toronto. It gives the team the league's best one-two punch at the vital position. Nazem Kadri will slide down to the third line, giving the Cup contenders terrific depth down the middle.

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