John Tavares is coming home. The clear prize of the 2018 free agent class, and the biggest superstar to hit the open market in years, is signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares made his decision on Sunday afternoon, announcing that he was joining the Leafs and declaring it "a childhood dream" come true. 

Tavares' new deal with Toronto comes at a seven-year term and is worth $77 million, bringing an average annual value of $11 million. 

Tavares was considering six teams over the past week, including the New York Islanders -- the only team he has known over the course of his nine-year NHL career. The Islanders made him the top overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.

Prior to the news of his deal with the Maple Leafs on Sunday, Tavares informed the Islanders he would not be returning to the club. He addressed the team's fans in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Sunday afternoon.

"These past six days have been nothing I could have ever expected," Tavares wrote. "Making the toughest decision of my life: to stay where I have been my entire career or take a calculated leap of faith into an opportunity that I believe will be special to me and my family. The island has been home, it's what I know, it's part of me -- it always will be. 

"I can't thank you all enough for the dedication you have all showed. I'm sorry if this decision pains you, as you can tell it wasn't easy, but have trust in the future because it is bright. The Islanders are in great hands. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be an Islander for as long as I did. The island, the fans, the organization, my teammates will always be special to me and my family but it's time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto." 

Tavares is coming off a season in which he scored 37 goals and 84 points for the Islanders. He'll join a Leafs team that is steadily on the rise with a young core and very solid complementary pieces. They finished second in the league in offensive output last year, and now they have a superstar playmaker to add to the middle of their lineup. Simply put, Toronto is a dangerous team that just got significantly more dangerous.

The Leafs haven't won a Cup since 1967 and they've experienced plenty of heartbreak and disappointment since then, but the addition of Tavares should make them a legitimate threat to hoist the Cup in the immediate future. They still need some help defensively and they'll have some work to do to remain under the salary cap in coming years (some of their young stars are still due new contracts) but Tavares is an absolutely monstrous get for the club.

If he can help lead the Leafs to a Stanley Cup title during the lifespan of his new deal, Tavares will become an immortal legend in Toronto -- his hometown and the center of the hockey universe. That ultimately proved too enticing a prospect for him to pass up. Can you blame him?