Phil Kessel Is Worth $8 Million a Year for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Jon Reid@@JonReidCSMCorrespondent IIOctober 1, 2013

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 12:  John-Michael Liles #24 and Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate a third period goal in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs May 12, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
Graig Abel/Getty Images

After a long offseason that saw Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis re-sign the team's first line center Tyler Bozak, use both of the team's compliance buyouts, add goal-scoring power forward David Clarkson and bring in another talented young goaltender in Jonathan Bernier, it appears that Nonis can check another item off his to-do list.

According to Darren Dreger of TSN (and subsequently reported on NHL.com), the Leafs have come to terms on a contract extension with star winger Phil Kessel and are close to making the extension official:

Kessel deal is 8 years,aprox $8 mil per. Believed to include ltd no-trade. It's not complete..not signed, but announcement expected today.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2013

Kessel extension should be completed this morning. Talks intensified this wknd. Phaneuf negotiations will soon become priority.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2013

Some contract details being finalized before Kessel signs 8 yr extension. Negotiations kicked into high last week and intensified on wknd.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2013

Barring any sort of 11th hour collapse in negotiations, it looks like Kessel will be in a Leafs uniform for the long haul.

Now the debate among Leafs fans and pundits shifts to whether the new contract was good for the team or if they overpaid for the soon-to-be-26-year-old goal machine.

Surely there will be some criticisms regarding Kessel's size, the length of the contract and his defensive play, or lack thereof.

Yet Kessel's offensive abilities are undeniable. He is among the league's top goal scorers and point producers over the last three seasons.

All this while playing on a line with a center who hasn't scored more than 0.64 points-per-game in any of the last three NHL seasons.

Something else to take into consideration is Kessel's durability. The Madison, WI native hasn't missed a single game since the 2009-10 season.

That same link also demonstrates how consistent Kessel is. Before the shortened 2013 season, the two-time All-Star had notched 30 goals in each of the previous four seasons. Even in last year's lockout season, Kessel was on pace for his fifth consecutive 30-goal season (20 goals in 48 games extrapolates to about 34 goals over 82 games).

Even Kessel's relative Corsi rating, adjusted for quality of competition, has steadily been improving. Since posting a negative rating in 2009-10, Kessel has posted a better number every year.

As a durable player with top-tier offensive talent and an improving defensive game, Phil Kessel is one of hockey's best players.

At the age of 25 (Kessel turns 26 on October 2), he's still young enough to justify an eight-year deal. The age of 34 is far from being too old to contribute at a high level in the NHL.

Leafs fans should rejoice that one of the league's best and most consistent stars will be staying put for the foreseeable future.


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