Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Preview
The Pittsburgh Steelers had an interesting 2017 season, but they once again failed to win the Super Bowl. How will they respond in 2018?
John Tavares could single handedly change the complexion of the NHL competition level this offseason. He is an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere when free agency begins on July 1. Tavares was the number one overall pick in 2009. During his time with the New York Islanders, he only made the postseason three times and won only one playoff series.
Tavares has scored 272 goals and recorded 349 assists, along with a plus/minus of -42 in his NHL career so far. During the 2017-2018 season, he scored 37 goals and recorded 47 assists, along with a plus/minus of -12. Tavares is a first line centerman and where could his services be used next year and beyond?
New York Islanders: Even though the Islanders are one of the most dysfunctional organizations in all of sports, Tavares has been very loyal to this organization from Day 1. The problem is does he really want to play in two home venues for the next few years and they don't know where they will be playing long term. The Islanders would probably give him between $10 million-$12 million a season with them.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils have the cap space to add another superstar to there roster. Nico Hischier is going to be a nice number one centerman one day, but if Tavares came in, Hischier would be the number two center and his game could take off because of the presence of Tavares. New Jersey is a star or two away from being a serious Stanley Cup Contender.
Pittsburgh Penguins: This is one of the team's most people don't want to see on Tavares list, unless you are a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization or a fan. He is very good friends with Sidney Crosby and Tavares wouldn't even be one the top line and he maybe wouldn't even be on the second line either. Tavares could be a very dangerous third line centerman for Pittsburgh and pair up with Phil Kessel. Pittsburgh would need to make some cap room to sign him, but they could very well get it done.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets are a legit championship contender, but they lack depth at center. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a very good rookie season but he and the Blue Jackets could use help at that position. Tavares would be the number one center on that team and Dubois would be a very solid number two. Tavares would have to play a solid two-way game under head coach John Tortorella.
Montreal Canadiens: Montreal has been one of the hot spots talked about for Tavares to go to. Tavares is from Canada, but I am not sure if this is an ideal spot for him. Montreal isn't close to contending and Carey Price isn't as good of a goalie as play people say he is.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs would make the most sense for Tavares. They are a young and upcoming team and he would be a very good leader for them in the locker room. Tavares grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, which isn't far from Toronto at all. Auston Matthews could become the number two center, Tavares could become the number two center, or they could play on the same line together. Toronto would maybe trade a winger like William Nylander to make room for him. Center Tyler Bozak is a free agent and Bozak may not even be re-signed.
Vegas Golden Knights: Vegas has surpassed expectations during their inaugural season and are still marching in the postseason. Even though Marc-Andre Fleury is the face of the franchise at the moment, he won't be there forever and Tavares is just 27 years old and they need a true star in Vegas.
San Jose Sharks: San Jose has a solid mixture of youth and veterans. Tavares would have some good players around him like Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Joe Pavelski. The Sharks are a very good team and Tavares could lead them to a Stanley Cup title.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues missed the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season despite getting off to a hot start. John Tavares would be a perfect player to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and they could do damage together. St. Louis has the talent to make another deep playoff run if Tavares were to join.
Nashville Predators: Even though the Predators won the Presidents' Trophy during the regular season and lost in the second-round of the playoffs, they need to make some adjustments. Defenseman Alexei Emelin's $4.1 million will come off the books because he is a free agent. They could try and trade center Craig Smith who is owed $4.25 million the next couple of seasons, in order to make room for Tavares. It would upgrade the center position offensively. Tavares could be the number one or two center. Ryan Johansen would on a top-2 line. Kyle Turris would become the third line center and Nick Bonino would be the fourth line center.