While Phil Kessel told reporters yesterday that no talks have taken place as of yet, assistant general manager Dave Poulin has hinted at the possibility of something developing in the next few days as it relates to a new contract extension for the noted pugilist.
This is welcome news for me. There is something disconcerting about a drawn-out, after-season Kessel negotiation. The longer the Leafs leave this means the greater the likelihood something will go wrong, before next thing you know… there goes the neighbourhood. Knowing Kessel doesn’t want to negotiate during the season – we don’t know for sure that this stance is inflexible, but assuming it is – could very well mean this goes down to the wire if a deal doesn’t get done soon. Ask Lou Lamoriello if it’s a good idea to trust your ability to get a deal done with a big-name UFA at the eleventh hour.
I may come off here like I’m all for rushing to hand Kessel a blank cheque before October 1st, but it goes without saying this could not be more unlike the hardball RFA negotiations that dragged (or are still dragging) on in Leafland this summer and fall.
Traditionally, when the Leafs have negotiated major contracts with in-house players, the maximum contract length they’ve handed out is 5 years. Tomas Kaberle got a 5-year deal in 2006. Bryan McCabe got a 5-year contract later that year. If I recall correctly, Mats Sundin was signed to separate deals of 3 and then 5 years in length when he was in his prime, but this was back when players were RFAs until they were near retirement.
In terms of recent examples, the Leafs got out well ahead of UFA with Lupul, giving him a 5-year extension before the start of last season. Bozak, technically in this conversation, got 5 years on an inflated deal the night before free agency.
The Leafs’ theory, at least as it was explained under Burke, was that contracts longer than 5 years do not keep the fire burning in the player’s belly with the same ferocity. Overlong term deals can be coach killers that both hurt the team and the player’s reputation in the long run. Burke always admitted, however, that he would break this rule of thumb if he felt there was ever a player worth breaking it for, in terms of character and ability.
If the Leafs want to stick by the aforementioned credo with Kessel, they’re going to have to pay up big time over those 5 years. They would be giving Kessel a huge raise, possibly to the tune of $3.5 million above his current $5.4 million salary, effective next July 1, at a time when their 2014-15 column on capgeek looks like a Christmas tree. If they sign something closer to the max (7 or 8 years), they can save some money on the annual AAV by working with the year-to-year variance a little more, but would be bearing more of a risk on a player who is, statistically speaking, currently already playing at his production peak (which is, statistically, 25/26 years old).
I like to think that Kessel would love nothing more than to be here long term, but if he wants to dig his heels in on guaranteed big money for the next 8 years, another team if not the Leafs will give it to him. If that’s what it takes, and it saves us on the cap hit in the short run, I say do what must be done.
Thanks to @MLHS_Aaron for putting the links together this morning…
BCP: Puck Handling: How Jonathan Bernier can help Toronto – Something, I’m sure, many of us have already taken note of in the preseason. Bernier is not Brodeur, but his puck handling abilities should help our d-zone exits.
Sporting Charts: 2013-2014 NHL preseason suppositions – Bob Sullivan cranks up the “what-if” machine for all 30 teams.
SportsNet: Reimer determined to remain No.1 – Reimer’s competitive spirit is impressive and you can’t help but cheer for the kid. More importantly, he no longer views himself as the underdog. He’s ready to battle, and it shows.
Yahoo! Puck Daddy: Lambert, Ron Rolston should be punished – The condescension is nauseating but I agree with Lambert here, albeit for different reasons.
HIBS: Band Aid, Can David Bolland stay healthy? – This is legitimate question and worth asking if Bolland is going to play the shut-down role Coach Carlyle expects him to play.
@MapleLeafsHS Kessel def worth AAV of $ 7-8M over 8 yr term. Yearly stats steadily trended up and he'll be perennial 80-100 pt player
@mantonio09 @MapleLeafsHS i would give it
@wiski I don't think that's the newest thread.
What I'm impressed with this off season is how Nonis added Raymond and ranger to a very tight cap squeeze where most of us thought he couldn't even sign Kadri and Franson with what he had left
@LeafsGuru Impressive, but without sounding too negative he didn't get a top line centre nor a top 4 dman. Not saying those assets were in abundance, but those surely those were priorities during the offseason
@LeafsGuru I'm impressed.....but not surprised. Some need to realize that Nonis didn't just fall off the turnip truck, is a professional, and a pretty safe bet that he knows more than any of the Armchair GM's out there.
@FrycersGhost Hey, like I said, the opportunites were limited, and he did well to adjust to a lower cap. But we all know the deficiencies with this club, and those questions remain.
Management needs to find a reasonable way to get rid of Liles (or Gunn) before next year without having to buy him out. Might be hard to showcase him when he is playing for the Marlies or in the press box but hey. Franson, Gardiner, Phaneuf, Ranger, Fraser (not priority) all either UFA or RFA next summer.
Our team is looking good though and i'm pumped for Oct 1st
I'd like to keep Gunnar. Unless of course we get something of greater value.
@TheCanucksnaphook @wendelsway1 Yes, some do, but I'm not one of them...and have repeatedly said that just because a player doesn't fit on our team, doesn't make them a bad player. I'm usually one of the few that will speak up for Grabo, Liles, Frattin, etc. Just feel that once somebody moves on, you gotta cut the cord and support those that remain in the Blue and White.....'cause it's all about the Leafs. :)
@wendelsway1 @TheCanucksnaphook Yup agree WW, ppl look good on paper but it's like being in a band, you can't just throw ppl together and have that magic no matter how they look on paper .... look at Blind Faith (how can you have Clapton and Winwood in the sam band and it doesn't work?!? ....chemistry, egos etc etc)
@-Keon- Maybe that's just him, but if true if I would be worried if I was an Oilers fan. That's a young team that has a lot of learning to do.
@TheCanucksnaphook Welcome to AWESOME Phook. I've liked the way the team has looked. And this signing just makes it better.
@TheCanucksnaphook Time to move on to the next anxiety Phook
@mcloki Phil "the cookie monster" Kessel.
** FRANSON IN**
This is AWESOME NEWS!! All the pieces are in place. As previous posters said few hours ago, next years negotiations are doable. Looking promising.
Now if somehow they could sign Kessel long term and trade for a bonified 1st line centerman to give us that one-two punch with Kadri, Bozak plugging hard on the third line - we might actually have a long-term contender!!
Heaven knows as the best fanbase in the league .... WE DESERVE IT!!
(I'm so happy I'm gonna eat a cookie for Phil :D )
And the person we really should be thanking, Burkie.
What defence man did we trade to aquire Lombardi and Franson.
I can't remember his name.
Thank you Burkie. Nice job Nonis.
Hold on a second ... we've still got Franson, Liles, Kadri AND added Raymond! All hail Nonis! King of the Cap Crunchers!
@wendelsway1 @Mind Bomb @Pent_House @dlb eh True you guys, But Vancouver let him go, and their top 9 is not deep at all. No other team offered him a contract. The best he could do was a PTO by a former GM giving him a chance. Now if we needed help I would be all over this. But my team has Ashton Carter in Raymond spot, I am not saying I am right, its just what I would do, If Ashton does not make this team after the camp he has had, it sends a message that all the talk is bullshit about rookies making the team.