Kessel wasted little time to express his excitement over Twitter:
Really happy to be a Toronto maple leaf for the next 8 year.— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) October 1, 2013
Toronto general manager Dave Nonis also took time to react to the news and his thoughts on Kessel, per NHL.com:
Phil Kessel is one of the premier wingers and elite goal scorers in the National Hockey League today. He wanted to be a Maple Leaf long term and we're very pleased that Phil will be a part of our core group of players in Toronto until the 2021-22 season.
Maple Leafs beat writer Rob Longley shared some additional comments from Nonis:
Nonis on Kessel: "he is a top 10 player. He has put himself in some elite company." #Leafs— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) October 1, 2013
Kessel, who turns 26 on Wednesday, has been one of the league's top goal scorers since joining Toronto via trade in 2009. He totaled 52 points (20 goals) in last year's lockout-shortened season to help lead the Leafs to their first playoff berth since the 2003-04 season.
Good deal for Toronto?
Still approaching his prime, Kesssel's top years are likely still ahead of him. Thirty-goal scorers are valued commodities in today's NHL, and Kessel has accomplished the feat in four of the last five seasons.
The new deal was announced just hours before Toronto drops the puck for their season opener at Montreal, but will go into effect for 2014-15 after Kessel wraps up the final season of the five-year contract he signed with the Maple Leafs in 2009.
With the new accord, Kessel joins an elite club of NHL players to have reached the $8 million per year plateau—along with others like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.