Oct 1, 2013, 1:36 PM EST
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.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:11 AM EST
But he seems very reluctant on the matter.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:24 AM EST
Is that what’s best for Carolina in the long term?
Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 AM EST
Anaheim has now lost two straight in regulation for the first time since November.
Jan 31, 2015, 1:15 AM EST
Sabres conclude January with an 0-12-0 record.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
Shattenkirk had the shootout winner.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:35 PM EST
He’s now tied with Dino Ciccarelli on the all-time points list.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:00 PM EST
Kris Letang has assisted on Pittsburgh’s last seven goals.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Mark Hunter has also been a rumored replacement.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
He’s a restricted free agent after this season.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
The 18-year-old is playing in his 3rd career AHL game tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Was 6-0-0 in his previous seven appearances entering tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 7:05 PM EST
It could happen at the World Cup though.
Jan 30, 2015, 5:16 PM EST
“We would be thrilled to have them play at our venue.”
Jan 30, 2015, 4:24 PM EST
Ville Pokka is a fun name.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
Spent last season in Buffalo.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:37 PM EST
Oklahoma City and Worcester do not.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:26 PM EST
Key Western Conference tilt tonight at Honda.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Not that that’s likely. Just…possible.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
- Report: Rob Blake would be Brendan Shanahan’s first choice to replace Dave Nonis 5
- Bettman would be ‘kicking and screaming’ before NHL jerseys have ads 17
- Comparing the records of all 30 teams in the last two months 60
- Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead 8
- Price wins goalie duel vs. Lundqvist as Habs edge Rangers 4
- Leafs’ luck: Bernier gives up long distance goal, things unravel in third 20
- AHL announces new Pacific Division — who could go west next? 36
- Babcock didn’t think Wings would be ‘near where we’re at’ 16
- Brodeur announces retirement, leaves ‘the game with a big smile on my face’ 16
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks 5