Don't get Lou Lamoriello wrong: The New York Islanders general manager wants very badly for star center John Tavares to stay with the team, but Lamoriello says he's just fine with Tavares deciding to look around.
On July 1, Tavares will become a free agent.
Tavares' agent, Pat Brisson, said on Saturday that the nine-year veteran, who has spent his entire career with the Islanders, would be interested in hearing from at least five teams as July 1 approaches.
Tavares has said previously that he wants to stay with the Islanders.
"I have no disappointment. No discouragement," Lamoriello told ESPN after Day 2 of the NHL draft in Dallas. "He's earned every right to make whatever choice he has. The most important thing is that we hope in the end that he's an Islander."
The Sharks have more than $20 million in cap space after parting ways with forward Mikkel Boedker and defenseman Paul Martin. The Maple Leafs are Tavares' hometown team. The Lightning are home to Steven Stamkos, a good friend of Tavares, and the Golden Knights have more than $30 million in cap space.
The Stars might appear to be a surprise player.
GMs for all five of those teams said they couldn't comment on Tavares specifically until the interview period opens, but a few said they obviously would be looking to upgrade their teams where possible.
In 669 games, Tavares, 27, has 621 points, including 272 goals, including 37 last season. He is a two-time Hart Trophy finalist for league MVP.
--Field Level Media