Skip to content

On that Kessel contract

Oct 1, 2013, 1:36 PM EDT

Phil Kessel Getty Images

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 ToewsAnze 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.

Latest Posts
  1. Andersen picks up first career shutout in Ducks win over Blues

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:56 PM EDT

    Frederik Andersen Frederik Andersen

    Defenseman Sami Vatanen has first career two-goal game

  2. Report: Brodie’s contract extension with Calgary expected Monday

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:28 PM EDT

    T.J. Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 12, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
(April 11, 2013 - Source: Derek Leung/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Five years with an annual average value of $4.6 million.

  3. Gaudreau leads Flames past Jets

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:46 PM EDT

    Johnny Gaudreau Getty Images

    Responds to being a healthy scratch by showing up on the scoresheet.

  4. Rangers blank Sharks

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Getty Images

    Lundqvist makes 33 saves for his first shutout of the season.

  5. Blue Jackets’ McElhinney expected to miss a week

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT

    Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets Getty Images

    Anton Forsberg recalled from Springfield.

  6. Video: Rangers score twice in record time

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT

    Martin St. Louis AP

    St. Louis and Nash give Rangers a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.

  7. Lightning recall Drouin

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT

    Lightning Camp Hockey AP

    Appeared in two AHL games on conditioning assignment.

  8. Stars make roster moves

    Oct 19, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Dallas Stars v Toronto Maple Leafs Getty Images

    Jokipakka recalled. Nichushkin placed on IR.

  9. Horvat (shoulder) sent on conditioning assignment

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Bo Horvat Getty Images

    When he’s healthy, the Canucks will have to decide if he fits into their lineup.

  10. Lupul: Leafs fans in Detroit gave ‘better energy’ than in Toronto

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Getty Images

    He wasn’t alone in praising the out-of-market fans.

  11. With McElhinney hurt, Jackets call up Anton Forsberg

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

    Anton Forsberg AP

    The Swedish goaltender doesn’t have much North American experience.

Featured video

Bruins faithful should be worried

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Datsyuk (3082)
  2. E. Staal (2539)
  3. M. Gaborik (2535)
  4. J. Drouin (2306)
  5. J. Skinner (2250)