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Highly touted center Jason Tavares is returning home to join the Toronto Maple Leafs after signing a seven-year $11 million deal.

Tavares, who played for the New York Islanders, was among the most highly anticipated free agents in the market.

The 27-year-old Tavares, who has been the driving force of the Islanders since 2009, lighted up the offensive end last season scoring 37 goals while dishing out 47 assists.

John Tavares Signs With Toronto Maple Leafs

By signing with the Maple Leafs, Tavares also rejected an eight-year contract extension with the Islanders in the process. Prior to joining the Canadian-based team, Tavares also engaged in meetings with Boston, Tampa Bay, San Jose, and Dallas.

During his stint with the Islanders, Tavares became the captain of the squad before leading the team into three appearances in the playoffs. In spite of his stellar play on both ends of the floor, the Islanders failed to make it past the conference quarterfinals and has missed the playoffs in the past two seasons. 

Tavares has also played with four different mentors in his time with Islanders. He is also the Islanders fifth-leading scorer with 621 points just behind Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, and Clark Gillies. In addition, Tavares has also finished third in the Hart Trophy voting twice.

Childhood Dream Comes True

Tavares, who was born in Mississauga, Ontario, has been a longtime fan of the Maple Leafs, citing that playing in Toronto has been his childhood dream. The five-time All-Star also sent his gratitude to the Islanders franchise who drafted him as the first overall pick nine years ago.

“The island, the fans, the organization, my teammates will always be special to me and my family but its time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto,” Tavares said.

The signing of Tavares is expected to pay golden dividends for the Maple Leafs who lost the services of versatile forwards Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk to free agency. Tavares is likely to be paired with Auston Matthews who are hoping to back the contribution of Mitch Marner.

Tavares added that Matthews and Marner are among the reasons why the fans of the Maple Leafs should look forward to next season. Marner pioneered the offensive production of the squad last season scoring a team-high of 69 points.

Regardless of the spectacular season from Marner, the Maple Leafs failed to make it far in the playoffs, losing to the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.

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