By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
You’re going to hear this a lot over the next few days: “The Bruins have no legitimate chance of actually signing John Tavares, so why even take the meeting?” But if that’s your mindset in what (if successful) can be a franchise-altering week, just get the hell out.
Please stop talking at my face, pack your things, and begone.
There’s no time for that in the now.
Because if we’re to instead believe that the Bruins have secured a face-to-face meeting with the 27-year-old Islander captain and superstar (potential) free agent to be, the reality is that the Bruins do indeed have a chance in The Tavares Sweepstakes.
Can you even imagine?
It’s obvious that B’s general manager Don Sweeney is all in. I think that he fully realizes the current state of the core of his roster, which is far closer to win-now than you’d be led to believe with the amount of youth integrated by Sweeney and Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy in the last year plus. Speaking to that approach, Sweeney showed a willingness to spend big on Ilya Kovalchuk, but he wasn’t willing to spend big for three years of Kovalchuk.
So he then immediately shifted his focus towards the next available star, and here we are.
And Tavares, unlike Kovalchuk, is a long-term franchise changer.
Not only would Tavares be the B’s biggest offseason addition since Zdeno Chara came to Boston from the Ottawa Senators in 2006, but he would be absolutely worth it. On top of being a relative throwback as a goal-scoring center in a league of pass-happy pivots, Tavares is just one of six NHL players to record at least 500 points since the start of the 2011 season. The others on that list are Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin. He is the kind of talent that’s helped make Matt Moulson, P.A. Parenteau, and Brad Boyes millions of dollars. He’s your classic franchise centerpiece.
This is a player that’s so good he would effectively make the all-world Patrice Bergeron your No. 2 center.
Can you even imagine?
And again, I want to make this clear: The Bruins do have a chance. Period. If Tavares is opting to meet with the B’s over teams like the Canadiens, Golden Knights, and others, it’s because the Bruins have made some sort of impression on him. This is not wishful armchair-managing or thinking, but rather a statement of fact. Now, is their chance as good as the Islanders, the only team that can offer him an eight-year deal and the team Tavares has captained since 2013? Probably not.
But if you’re telling me that the Bruins are in the same room as the Sharks, Maple Leafs, Stars, and maybe a few others, and then ask me to rank their chances of pulling off the unthinkable and signing No. 91 compared to those teams? I love ’em.
Think about it: Among those teams, the Bruins have viable long-term stability with under-market contracts to Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand. Chara and Tuukka Rask are still in the fold as productive pieces that should be enough to get you to the third and fourth round of postseason play. And the Bruins also have the young guns out the nose to assure Tavares that he would be locking himself into actual years of serious contention. Some of the other teams meeting with Tavares possess this, as well, but the majority of them have high-end stars that remain unsigned beyond the next two seasons (looking at you, Maple Leafs). For the Bruins, the only legitimate star that needs to be re-signed between now and the 2019-20 puck drop is Charlie McAvoy. He should still fit under the Boston cap, even with a signed Tavares in Boston.
Now, it almost goes without saying that Tavares will cost you a pretty penny. Perhaps every pretty penny you have saved away. Even with a salary cap ceiling that increased $4.5 million, leaving the Bruins with $11.9 million in available cap space.
Signing Tavares would likely force the Bruins to move on from David Backes (due $6 million for the next three seasons) and/or David Krejci (owed $7.25 million a year for another three years). The Bruins have been prepared to spend big and thus move the former (it was a believed fallout from a Kovalchuk signing), and Krejci most certainly appears to have a trade market if that’s something required out of the Bruins should they hit it big and win the Tavares lottery.
And if that’s what it costs this team, then it’s an honest no-brainer for Sweeney.
Tavares would be the backbone that successfully bridges the gap between Bergeron and the next wave of talent. This is what the Bruins parted with when they traded Tyler Seguin in 2013, and what they have been unable to cultivate from within to this point. This is the kind of player that makes you a destination, not just for the next two years, but the next five to six years.
He’s worth it, worth it, worth it.
Of course, we’re all getting way ahead of ourselves here. Hypothetical cap maneuvering for a player that’s not signed yet is an ice cream headache on its own. Doubly so when you’re talking about not yet knowing the exact dollar amount that Tavares would come into the fold at. But buying into Tavares signing with the Bruins is worth believing in. It’s worth investing your emotions in this summer, if only because of the promise it can come with. And because the reality of the situation.
The Bruins are legitimately in on Tavares.
Can you even imagine?
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.