Toronto eyes Tavares
John Ferguson has made a bold move with an eye to capturing the next big thing in hockey — he offered up-and-coming superstar John Tavares a contract to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs' farm team.
By offering a deal for at least three years or longer, the source said Ferguson hopes to convince Tavares to remain Leaf property and opt out of the NHL draft. Tavares is eligible for the 2009 entry draft.Well, isn't this interesting.
This doesn't seem all that likely, especially the stipulation that Tavares would play three years in the AHL (likely for a ridiculous salary), but it's notable that Toronto is making the play. The last thing the league wants, however, is for teams to be able to manoeuvre around the draft like this.
I can't wait to see the NHL's response, which I'll have up here as it's made available.
UPDATE Here's NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly:
"As a general matter, what AHL clubs do with players is not something that concerns us," Daly wrote. "Having said that, an NHL club cannot use a related entity to circumvent any rights granted under the [collective agreement]. There is no indication that Toronto is contemplating anything that would circumvent the [agreement]."