john tavares maple leafs
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Tavares Watch continues with decision day under 72 hours away, updates from 2018 Leafs development camp, Dave Morrison promoted to Director of Player Personnel (Mark Hunter’s old post), and more in the links.

Leafs Links

LeBrun: Have to think it’s down to 2 or 3 teams in Tavares’ mind (TSN1050)
Pierre LeBrun takes stock of where things stand in the John Tavares sweepstakes on Overdrive.

On what might play out on Friday:

LA time Friday morning because CAA is based out of there… I don’t know if they’re going to want it out, but they’re going to start, potentially as early as tomorrow, identifying some teams and saying, “You know what? We don’t want to waste your time because you guys are going to move onto other players now. You are now out.” Which is the way to do it. The list will start to get cut down.

What’s not clear is whether John Tavares, as early as tomorrow, will just say, “I know what I want to do, so let’s just…” Or, whether it is six, four, three, and three for 24 hours, and then two. You don’t know. It’s a big decision in his life. He should take as much time as he can. But if he’s re-signing with the Islanders he’s got to decide by midnight on Saturday to get the eighth year.

On how many teams are still seriously in it:

I would think that it’s down to two or three teams in his mind – not officially, but he flew back from LA today, and I’m guessing on that flight, he’s down to two or three. Last night, after the last meeting with Tampa, him and Pat Brisson and the rest of the CAA group all sat together and started going through all the different presentations and pros and cons. By the time he got onto the plane, I think he was already starting down the path of, “I think I am down to a smaller group.” We’ll see where it goes from there.

On who those finalists might be:

For completely no reason other than my own analysis, I personally feel like Boston and Dallas are the first two out, but that is based on no facts. That is just me looking at the six teams and going, “I know how hard it is for him to ever leave the Islanders.” He may, but I view them as the defacto one because of where he currently is. And then I just feel like San Jose and Toronto, in my heart and mind, are next. Again, not based on anything other than that the Sharks and Leafs, in talking to a source in each organization, feel extremely good about the way they presented themselves.

Tampa is a wildcard because they might be the best team out of all of those teams pitching, and Steve Yzerman is a guy that John Tavares idolized growing up. I get that Boston is a really good team and Dallas is a decent team. Again, we may end up on Sunday with him signing with one of those two teams, but that’s my own sort of way I’ve gone about it.

On the likelihood he’ll leave the Island at the end of the process:

They’re not showing their cards right now, but when you talk about having a feeling all year, I think that feeling is that it’s going to be hard to leave the Islanders. That, to me, is the feeling. However, he has actually gone through the process, and unlike Stamkos, actually saw it to the end. He didn’t cut the process short. Stamkos was supposed to see a couple of more teams and only did four. He knew in his heart that he wanted to stay in Tampa. Tavares actually went through the whole thing – listened to six two-hour presentations – and went through all the analysis with Pat Brisson. It may very well be that he stays on the Island, like the feeling we’ve had all year, but if he doesn’t, it’s because something this week in the presentations made him change his mind and swung it. That’s where it gets interesting.

Staple: Tavares flies home to Toronto as contract decision looms (The Athletic)
Arthur Staple’s report lines up with Lebrun’s: if Tavares decides to leave Long Island, the Sharks and Leafs are the two other teams most in consideration.

Marietta Dubas: Sign for the Leafs, Tavares, “you know you want to” (Twitter)
After Grandma Pavelski tweeted at John Tavares campaigning for him to pick the Sharks, Grandma Dubie responds in kind on behalf of the Leafs:

Leafs development camp notes: Wickenheiser coaching prospects (Sportsnet)
“We thought it would be a good addition to have her come to camp here, and we’re excited to have her. She’s obviously a Canadian icon,” Leafs director of player development, Scott Pellerin said. “We’re looking to learn from her, too.”

Ryane Clowe meets the media at development camp (YouTube)
Recently appointed head coach of the Newfoundland Growlers, Ryane Clowe meets with the media at 2018 Leafs development camp.

I wouldn’t say I was targetting it [a head coaching job] at this stage. It worked out that it’s at home, but a big part of it is it being hired by Toronto and being involved with the coaches and management. The ability — no different than a player — to grow as a coach. It wasn’t an easy thing to leave New Jersey, but I really felt for an opportunity to begin my head coaching career, there is no better way.

On whether the Growlers will look to play a similar system and style to the Marlies and Leafs:

I’m sure we’ll try to align it — no different than the Marlies with the Leafs. I’ll talk to Sheldon quite a bit and then possibly have some guys from here with me. Certainly an aggressive, attacking style — kind of how much coaches will tell you they want to play these days. We’ll talk as a staff and we’ll work together and figure something out.

Why Leafs prospect Eemeli Rasanen is off to the KHL (Sportsnet)
“I need harder games than junior,” said Rasanen. “That’s what I decided after Christmas. I want to go pro. I didn’t know then where I wanted to go, but then I decided the KHL must be the best for me.”

Sean Durzi joins the Maple Leafs one year after draft disappointment (The Star)
“He’s matured in all the facets where you want a hockey player to mature,” said Owen Sound GM Dale DeGray. “He’s been around guys that are a little bit older and a little bit farther along in the maturity phase — eating properly, getting the proper rest — and seeing what they’re able to achieve and how they’re able to achieve it.”

Leafs promote Dave Morrison, Troy Bodie, hire Wes Clark (Sportsnet)
Dave Morrison has been with the organization since 2004, previously serving in the director of amateur scouting role before Mark Hunter moved him over to the pro scouting side in 2015. Dubas has now moved Morrison into the Director of Player Personnel role previously occupied by Hunter.  Long-time Dubas colleague Wes Clark, a former player evaluation consultant with the Leafs before leaving to scout for the Panthers, returns to the organization in an assistant director of player personnel role.