Six teams remain in the John Tavares sweepstakes, but that number could be about to drop.
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said Friday that the New York Islanders centre could begin cutting teams in the next few hours.
The San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Islanders all sat down with Tavares in Los Angeles this week to try to court the superstar.
"Our understanding of the situation is that some of the teams that aren't getting him could find that out as early as this morning,” McKenzie told TSN Radio Montreal 690. “So maybe we'll get a little clarification here.
“People wonder about Tampa or Boston, maybe Dallas. I don’t put much stock into it, but if you were trying to measure the consensus view of all the pundits, players and people around the league out there, the feeling is all along the Islanders were kind of the front-runner, but San Jose and Toronto, in particular, were the two teams that made presentations that, if he weren’t going to the Islanders, he could end up there. I would say Dallas was the next one that got a little bit more support.
“A lot of people say Toronto and San Jose. Some people said Toronto and Dallas. Boston and Tampa don’t seem to get mentioned as often and it’s obviously a lot more complicated for Tampa, but honestly, I have no idea. Maybe John Tavares will pull a rabbit out of his hat and say ‘Yeah, Tampa start clearing cap space because I’m coming.’ But with the Kucherov deal to sign, and so many other things, I’m not sure how they go about that.
“It will be fascinating. Hopefully we find out sooner rather than later. I’d hate for it to carry over to Sunday morning but we figure to know by Saturday. As I said, some teams may out (today).”
Tavares has until the end of the day on Saturday to re-sign with the Islanders on an eight-year deal; otherwise he can sign a seven-year contract with any team, including the Isles, on Sunday.