Oct 1, 2013, 1:36 PM EDT
The Toronto Maple Leafs have given Phil Kessel an eight-year, $64 million extension, tying the 25-year-old to the club through the 2021-22 season. Since we just wrote a post about the difficulty making predictions, we won’t say for sure whether this will turn out well, or horribly, for the Leafs. Instead, let’s do this:
Two reasons this was a good move by the Leafs
1. Kessel is one of the premier snipers in the NHL. There are not many players still in their 20s with four 30-goal seasons on their resumes. When a team has one of those players, it really doesn’t want to let him walk away in free agency, or even as a trade-deadline rental. An $8 million cap hit is high, but it’s not insane. No question he would’ve received that if he’d hit the market this summer. Not to mention, the cap is expected to go up, some think dramatically, in the next few years.
2. There aren’t many top unrestricted free agents hitting the open market anymore. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf didn’t, and the Ducks are hardly a big-money team like the Leafs. Not only can pending UFAs sign eight-year extensions with their current teams, as opposed to just seven years with all others, a lot of the time players are married and have started families at that point in their careers. Moving to a whole new city isn’t easy, even for a whole whack of money. So in the Leafs’ case, if they’d lost Kessel, what would they have done to replace his scoring? Maybe they’d have been able to sign a guy like Thomas Vanek, but they wouldn’t have been the only suitors. And besides, Vanek’s four years older than Kessel.
Two reasons this was a bad move by the Leafs
1. Kessel is a winger, and the evidence says that Cup champs are built with goalies, defensemen, and centers. The more money a team spends on its wingers, the less it has for those three key areas. Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk — all centers, all have won rings. Alex Ovechkin — winger, no ring.
2. Kessel’s far from old, but some research suggests that 25 is the peak age for NHL scorers. For a player that relies on his speed so much to get into position to shoot, this may be particularly concerning for the Leafs. Not to keep picking on Ovechkin (a.k.a. the reigning Hart Trophy recipient), but there are a lot of similarities between the two players, and Ovechkin’s best goal-scoring seasons came before he turned 25.
Aug 31, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
He continued to follow their summer moves after he was fired.
Aug 31, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
The late creator of Peanuts was a big hockey fan.
Aug 31, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT
The Colorado defenseman is still a restricted free agent.
Aug 31, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT
“I think that would make it a little more equitable for match-ups.”
Aug 31, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT
He spent the 2013-14 campaign in the KHL.
Aug 31, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
He served as an assistant general manager in Los Angeles before coming to Philadelphia.
Aug 31, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
After matching a career-low in goals during the 2013-14 season, he’s hoping for big things with the Coyotes.
Aug 31, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Add depth to blue line in Albany.
Aug 31, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT
Hopes to play in the NHL in 2014-15.
Aug 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08, he believes they’ll be back in the postseason in 2014-15.
Aug 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’s emphasized a quick shot release the most.
Aug 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
GM Doug Wilson points out that he was acquired to be a “stud defenseman.”
Aug 30, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT
Stefan Matteau is in the conversation, too.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
His new deal earned more than a few critics.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
He’s still just 21.
Aug 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Cory Schneider has some big shoes to fill.
Aug 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson both have a shot at being No. 1.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
The two sides are not budging in contract negotiations.
Aug 30, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
Will try to guide the Devils back to the postseason after two straight seasons without playoff hockey in New Jersey.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Will wear a different look in 2014-15.
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