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Report: John Tavares won’t meet with the Blues

Search for a top line center now narrows

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Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Blues’ decades-long search for a top-line center will apparently not be resolved by a stop on Long Island.

According to a report published on The Athletic by Arthur Staple, pending free agent center John Tavares has narrowed the list of teams he plans to meet with to three definite finalists - the Dallas Stars, the San Jose Sharks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Staple further reports that the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning may still be involved and that remaining with the New York Islanders is still under consideration.

Tavares’s decision comes in the wake of indications that neither Ilya Kovalchuk nor Artemi Panarin are considering the Blues as a destination, leaving the team scrambling for the offensive help that was the main focus of the off-season.

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong was seen on the draft floor in Dallas in conversation with several counterparts, including Buffalo’s Jason Botterill and Calgary’s Brad Treliving.

Buffalo has long been rumored to be seeking a new home for center Ryan O’Reilly, though his contract requires him to receive a cash payment of $7.5 million on July 1st. Teams seeking O’Reilly are likely to prefer to complete a trade after that payment is made, but such a wait would also seemingly drive up the price of acquisition.

There have been fewer public reports about a forward being available from Calgary, though there have been suggestions that right handed defenseman Dougie Hamilton may be on the trade block. Hamilton could be an intriguing asset if the Blues were forced to relinquish a player such as Colton Parayko in a trade for a center.

Parayko’s name suddenly appeared in the 16th spot on TSN’s Trade Bait List on Friday evening. His most common rumored destination has been the Edmonton Oilers, though Buffalo may also be a fit if the Sabres desire an NHL player as a return for O’Reilly.