The Toronto Maple Leafs made headlines today, signing star right winger Phil Kessel to a $64 million – 8 year contract extension. The deal ensures the Leafs right side is set over the next several seasons, as Phil joins recent offseason signing RW David Clarkson to form part of the Leafs core moving forward.
Kessel has often been knocked for his lack of two-way play and uninvolved defensive style, but the Buds sniper brings many great things to the ice. Kessel’s rare combination of explosive speed and lethal shooting lead to regular offensive production most NHL players aren’t capable of providing. Keeping Kessel around guarantees the Leafs have an elite goal scorer in place to build a team around.
Critics suggest Kessel’s payday is high when compared to players with similar contracts. For example, Kessel’s $8 million a season earns him more annually than Henrik Zetterberg ($6.7), Patrick Kane ($6.3), Jonathan Toews ($6.3) – all players with Stanley Cup rings and Conn Smythes to declare.
Kessel’s money may be a little high based on track record, but losing him was never really an option for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The original acquisition of Phil Kessel in the summer of 2009, is one of the most controversial trades in Leafs’ franchise history. Fans believed the Leafs gave up too much for Phil. Backlash would have been monumental if the Buds’ top gun walked for no compensation next offseason.
As of July 1st, 2014, Phil Kessel was set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent. Phil recently told the media he would not negotiate his contract during the season, which could have led to a situation where the Leafs were stuck with a small window of time to convince their franchise player to stay. That’s always risky business. The deal is done and the emerging Leafs future is a little more clear moving forward.
For more on the signing visit NHL.com
*All numbers courtesy of Capgeek.com