So, as you’re probably well aware of (if you arent..), Phil Kessel is closing in on an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs before tomorrow’s opening night puck drop. The speculation is that he’ll take in and around $8 million per year over 8 years, locking him up until he’s 34 years old. People are debating whether this is the right choice.
What? This is crazy. If he’s asking for $8.5 million right now, the Leafs would win these negotiations without even negotiating. Anything now is gravy.
Lets look at prior history. Specifically, high production wingers going into their first contract with UFA years, between the ages of 25-28 in their contract years, in the salary cap era. You get the following players, with their contracts, and their adjusted contracts (cap inflation and removal of "circumvention" years after year 8)
|Player||Contract||Contract Year||Adjusted Contract|
|Phil Kessel||TO BE DETERMINED||2012/13||TO BE DETERMINED|
|Patrick Marleau||2 years @ 6.3 M||2007/08||2 years @ 7.14 M|
|Henrik Zetterberg||12 years @ 6.083 M||2008/09||8 years @ 8.58 M|
|Marian Gaborik||5 years @ 7.5 M||2008/09||5 years @ 8.49 M|
|Zach Parise||12 years @ 7.538 M||2011/12||8 years @ 9.16 M|
|Dany Heatley||6 years @ 7.5 M||2006/07||6 years @ 9.59 M|
|Rick Nash||8 years @ 7.8 M||2009/10||8 years @ 8.44 M|
|Daniel Sedin||5 years @ 6.1 M||2008/09||5 years @ 6.91 M|
|Corey Perry||8 years @ 8.625 M||2011/12||8 years @ 8.625 M|
|Ilya Kovalchuk||15 years @ 6.67 M||2009/10||8 years @ 10.69 M|
An average contract in this class comes out to 6 years @ 8.625 million. Seeing as all of them other than Gaborik and Parise signed with the teams they were with, it’s not crazy to assume that the average would be much higher with free agency shift arounds.
Here’s a comparison of their production in their contract years:
And adjusted to 82 games @ 20 minutes per game:
His production is right up amongst the best, only being outscored by Gaborik and his 17 game sample size, and Heatley, who who was the trigger man on one of the most stacked lines in modern hockey, rather than playing with Tyler Bozak. On top of that, this is a man who’s health has been fantastic since coming here, not missing a single game in Toronto since he hit the ice for the first time.
Simply put, Phil Kessel is in elite company for this contract negotiation scenario. He’s asking for a more than reasonable amount right off the hop, because honestly, he could easily get over 9M on July 1st. The fact he isn’t even asking for that is huge. Start celebrating.