John Tavares is bidding Long Island goodbye for a chance to play for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.

The New York Islanders captain agreed to $77 million, seven-year deal with Toronto and announced his long-awaited decision by posting a letter on his Twitter account about an hour after the free-agency signing period opened on Sunday.

"The island, the fans, the organization, my teammates will always be special to me and my family," wrote Tavares, who is from Toronto's suburb of Mississauga. "But it's time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto."




Tavares had 37 goals and 47 assists for 84 points in 82 games for the Islanders last season. He has 621 points in 669 career regular-season games.

The 27-year-old Tavares was the highest-profile player on the market, and spent last week meeting with the Islanders, San Jose, Toronto, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Boston. By waiting until Sunday, Tavares gave up the opportunity to sign an eight-year extension with the Islanders.

Adding Tavares is a boon to the Maple Leafs, who already feature 2016 first-round draft pick, Auston Matthews.

And his departure presents a heavy blow to the Islanders, who selected Tavares with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft. In a bid to retain Tavares, the team underwent an organizational makeover in recent months under still relatively new owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. They hired Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and fresh Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz as coach.