John Tavares skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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John Tavares Heads Home, Signs With Toronto

Islanders Suffer Big Blow As Their Captain Departs

July 02, 2018 - 9:01 am


So much for the Islanders' perfect offseason.

Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders suffered a decisive blow on Sunday when captain John Tavares announced he would be leaving the team to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tavares, a Toronto native, announced he would be signing a seven-year contract with an average annual value of $11 million with the team he grew up rooting for.

The franchise center took to Twitter to thank the Islanders and its fans for the last nine years.

The five-time All-Star was the biggest name on the free agent market this summer. The Islanders held on to the 27-year-old at the trade deadline, hoping they could convince their longtime captain to remain with the team. 

New York will now watch him leave without getting anything in return.

The Islanders selected Tavares with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft. The center registered 37 goals and 47 assists last season in what was the final year of his six-year, $33 million contract. 

New York was one of six teams to secure a free agent meeting with Tavares this past week, joining the Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins. The decision reportedly came down to the Islanders, Maple Leafs, and Sharks.

"I just felt this opportunity was just so rare, the timing of where the organization's at and obviously the connection being from here,'' Tavares said. "I really believe there's a big window here to win, to be part of something special. It just felt right.''

The Islanders thanked Tavares for his nine-year tenure with the franchise, and wished him the best as he continues his NHL career in his hometown.

New York will now look to replace Tavares' production in free agency.