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John Tavares’ decision should provide clarity for Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL

John Tavares has kept the hockey world waiting, but his announcement today should shed some light on the next phase of his career.

NHL: New York Islanders at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming NHL free agency period will either become incredibly interesting or very dull depending on the fate and future of superstar center John Tavares, who is expected to announce his plans for free agency later today, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Of course, should Tavares say he would like to interview with other teams, he would instantly become the top potential free agent in the NHL. However, he could do what Steven Stamkos did during the summer of 2016 when he interviewed with teams but eventually re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to free agency opening on July 1.

What’s important about Tavares’ announcement on Saturday, though, is that it should allow other teams to start moving forward with their offseason plans. Every team obviously doesn’t have a shot at signing the 27-year-old center, but because the possibility of Tavares hitting the open market looms large, teams around the league are stuck in limbo.

We saw evidence of this on Friday night during the first round of the NHL Draft, a night that featured just one significant trade. The reason for this? Well, according to Dreger, you guessed it: everyone is waiting for Ilya Kovalchuk and Tavares to make their decisions.

This didn’t affect the Golden Knights, who were without a pick in the first round of the draft. However, not only are the Knights interested in both Kovalchuk and Tavares, but when players of that caliber remain viable options for many teams around the league, all other trades and discussions are put on hold.

It’s possible this could be interfering with Vegas’ efforts to trade for Erik Karlsson. There’s no way to prove this sentiment, but based on what Dreger said, it’s fair to assume that the entire league is kind of on hold until Tavares and Kovalchuk make their decisions.

Although Kovalchuk and his agent do not have a timeline for when they will make a decision, Tavares’ impending announcement could have a ripple effect on the entire league, which could mean a very busy Saturday is on the horizon at the NHL Draft.