Chance of a Kessel extension, sooner rather than later?

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Courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

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…

Morning Links

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.

THN: Phil Kessel is whatever you want him to beGreat article where Ryan Kennedy gives Phil Kessel the respect he deserves.  Shout out to @mORRganRielly for bringing this to my attention.

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.

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • JWasted

    Good thing the NHL gave Kessel some time to negotiate

  • Savo43

    JWasted Blessing in disguise, it would seem.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    This article is dedicated to Greg Fenton. Forgot to include him in the credits.

  • Savo43

    Alec Brownscombe What are your first impressions of Bernier, Alec? Do you like the trade more, than when it was originally made, or too soon to judge?

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe Did something happen to him? Or did he write it?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Jordan29 Alec Brownscombe You know Fenton and think he might have wrote that?
    No, nothing happened to him.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Savo43 Alec Brownscombe Too soon. Issue was never with Bernier though, more with how quick some were to declare him superior to Reimer and start throwing Reimer’s name into trade proposals.
    It should be Reimer’s crease and Bernier should have to unseat him in the real games.
    As Nonis said… in the short term, the Leafs could have a platoon of two good young goalies pushing each other and bringing their best stuff this season, it’s nothing short of fantastic for the team. But as Nonis also said, eventually on will take over for the other, and I’d imagine with Reimer’s contract up at years end, it will be decided by the end of the season.
    I say Reimer is still the guy, making the trade not a bad trade necessarily, but one that wasn’t exactly needed and didn’t help the cap situation, affecting the status of another good asset like Franson.

  • Jordan29

    If the Kessel thing gets done easily I think it goes along way to show other players Nonis means business on creating a winner

  • Jordan29

    Alec Brownscombe Jordan29 I have no idea whats going on right now…..

  • Savo43

    Alec Brownscombe Savo43 I can’t decide which goalie i like better tbh. I feel like Bernier makes the saves Reimer doesn’t (through traffic, or a 3 on 1 type of scenario *Bernier seems to handle it calmer*)..but at the same time, i haven’t seen Bernier enough to gauge whether he can make the same big saves Reimer can if that makes sense. 

    Both have played great and it looks like James has (especially) worked endlessly on his breakaways, but really just his whole game, damn, looking sharp. 

    Really like Berniers composure though, i really think it comes down style, and if theres a reason i like Bernier better, its just because he makes me feel easier. Really impressed with how hes directed rebounds, handled the puck, seen the puck through traffic and absorbed pucks from glove to glove. 

    You’re right with the cap scenario and what has taken place in that regard, but i also believe things can still be worked out, unfortunately it is more than likely going to take a salary retention deal, with the forfeiting of a prospect and a pick to ship out the salary we need to…but with the potential roster we could put out there once Franson and Clarkson come back, really seems like one that could be a force, one that seems worth losing a prospect and a pick IMO. Especially with the aforementioned goaltending duo we have.

     I dno i don’t think we’re in as bad a shape as the media’s making it out to be. Especially if there is a tsn/hbo special being taped. Gotta believe they just need to have some material for the series’ first  few episodes ;).

  • Savo43

    Alec Brownscombe Savo43 Btw, Thats happening right? The HBO series or w.e for the winter classic?

  • JWasted

    I wonder how Bernier will effect this team with his puck playing ability. Reimer and Bernier are pretty much the opposite in this regard, I think it is fair to say the defense is impacted by this. With Bernier in net you might want to force the other team more into dumping the puck, and have Bernier help you gaine possesion. With Reimer this is a different story. I’m sure Bernier and Reimer are both good goalies, but I wonder if it helps stabalizing the defense if they have to adjust every other game?

  • Savo43

    Whats everybodies D situation? Personally i think i’d go with this, based on performance. Percy and Macwilliam were really close for the last spot for me. Perhaps its too soon though i dno. 

    Gunnarsson-Phaneuf
    Gardiner-Ranger
    Percy-Fraser

  • Burtonboy

    Yep the Leafs have historically only given out shorter term contracts but hasn’t a new precedent been set with the Clarkson deal ? This is really not much different then negotiating with a big UFA on July 1st. Your gonna have to pay if you want him

  • leafsince93

    if this is true..what a steal by Nonis..he will have to pony up next season but for this grt deal for leafs

    https://twitter.com/FAN590Walker

    https://twitter.com/FAN590Walker/status/383143808344801280

    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash will sign Cody Franson. One year, 2 mil dollar deal set to be announced. Big paycut gets him to UFA. Wants to play, clearly.

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 Great news if its true. I feel for Cody being put in this crappy situation but its better for him long term if he’s back on the ice

  • leafsince93

    ya hope its true. Leafs need this guy in the line up to be successful. also gives both Nonis and Franson full year to negotiate an extension. franson can also file for arbitration if extension talks don’t work out.

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 I would expect Cody to be extremely motivated also . Good news because I was getting nervous about that d corp…still am to some extent

  • Burtonboy

    Morgan Rielly a lock (almost) to start season with Leafs
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/09/26/morgan_rielly_a_lock_almost_to_start_season_with_leafs.html

  • leafsince93

    Burtonboy ya me too..i still think that we r missing that stud defensive dman. plenty of puck movers but that big tough physical guy in front of the net is still missing

  • leafsince93

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy i m very excited to see a healthy Jake Gardiner, signed Franson and Morgan Reilyy in the line up if he stays with Leafs. thats 3 very dynamic offensive dman out of your top six..should b fun to watch

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 Burtonboy This Walker guy ? Is he the fellow who took over for Lang on the morning show at the Fan?

  • leafsince93

    Burtonboy ya thats him. haven’t seen this news from anyone else yes

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto leafsince93 When did this news break?  If true, it would leave enough to at least start the season with  Franson and Riley.  It buys lots of time to move a contract which will get easier as teams figure out they lack the skill they thought hey had, and or injuries. Then there will be room to bring up an Ashton, or Mac Williams(the big body clear the crease type).  Also Devane whenever either of the face punchers is injured.  He could start the season if Orr or Mclaren are on Season opening injured reserve.  That kid has impressed me the most because of how far down the pecking order he was, he only played a few games with the Marlies and a few more in the ECHL.  That is a big jump in one camp.

  • Burtonboy

    theacs1966 CanuckUKinToronto leafsince93 Devane has been a huge surprise for me . Good on him

  • leafsince93

    theacs1966 CanuckUKinToronto leafsince93 abt couple of hrs ago. i m impressed with Devane. he needs some time in AHL to round up his game but he won’t b just a face puncher..could he fill a role like Travis Moen did for Ducks ? or someone like Prust

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 Burtonboy TSN are reporting it as a rumor and looking to get it confirmed . Dregger is busy on the phone asking Nonis “why in fuck didn’t you tell me first “

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 theacs1966 CanuckUKinToronto A 4th line in a yr or so of Devane – McClement – Ashton is just fine with me

  • leafsince93

    Burtonboy of all people Andrew Walker who just started to Morning Show with Brady broke the story if it turns out to be true

  • theacs1966

    leafsince93 theacs1966 CanuckUKinToronto I like his whole game.  I’ve never seen him play before, or if I did, it was once and he didn’t leave a mark.  He looks ready to me, and it might not do him so well playing with less skilled players but I see the merits of time in the A.  He may have to start if our goons are both out to start the season, as their cap hit won’t count as far as I can tell because they were hurt before the season started, kinda like Kadri 2 seasons ago, unless that changed in the new CBA.

  • Burtonboy

    leafsince93 Burtonboy Yeah we need to be careful about this one and not get too excited

  • Burtonboy

    theacs1966 leafsince93 CanuckUKinToronto Would have to place them on IR  I think

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto That must mean that someone is getting sent down.  I’m looking at you Holzer/or traded.

  • Burtonboy

    No problem running a 22 man roster now 
    CAPGEEK.COM USER GENERATED ROSTER
    My Custom Lineup

    FORWARDS
    Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m) 
    James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($2.900m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m) 
    Mason Raymond ($1.000m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m) 
    Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m) 
    Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / 
    DEFENSEMEN
    Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) 
    Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($2.000m) 
    Mark Fraser ($1.275m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m) 
    Morgan Rielly ($1.744m) / 
    GOALTENDERS
    Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) 
    James Reimer ($1.800m) 
    OTHER

    Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) 
    Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) 
    Buried: John-Michael Liles ($2.950m) 
    RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit)
    Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) 
    ——
    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion)
    SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $65,085,833; BONUSES: $1,150,000
    CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $364,16

  • Wilbur

    This Walker dude is tweeting that a 1 year deal gets Franson to UFA next year. I thought he was still RFA next year since he will still be 26 years old on July 1st  2014 (doesn’t turn 27 until Aug 8th 2014). Am I not right?

  • theacs1966

    Burtonboy theacs1966 leafsince93 CanuckUKinToronto Yes, but to get cap relief they have to be out so many games/days.  I think it’s 21days, if that is true, do they have to wait till day 21 or if you can go back to retroactive to the day they were injured even though the season hasn’t started, I don’t know.

  • Burtonboy

    Wilbur Yes you are

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto theacs1966 No way to codify it, but a handshake agreement to start at a certain point come January.

  • Burtonboy

    theacs1966 Burtonboy leafsince93 CanuckUKinToronto You can do it retroactive and I’m not 100 % sure of the days in this new CBA.  Might be 15 but I would have to check

  • theacs1966

    TheCanucksnaphook CanuckUKinToronto Doesn’t that depend on who you follow?  Also its 7 in the bloody AM.

  • JWasted

    Burtonboy I would prefer Brennan over Rielly as a 7th D
    FORWARDS
    James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m) 
    Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($2.900m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m) 
    Mason Raymond ($1.000m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m) 
    Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m) 
    Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / 
    DEFENSEMEN
    Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) 
    Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($2.000m) 
    Mark Fraser ($1.275m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m) 
    T.J. Brennan ($0.600m) / 
    GOALTENDERS
    Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) 
    James Reimer ($1.800m) 
    OTHER
    Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) 
    Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) 
    Buried: John-Michael Liles ($2.950m) 
    RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit)
    Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) 
    ——
    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion)
    SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,941,667; BONUSES: $300,000
    CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $658,333

  • Wilbur

    Burtonboy Wilbur Tweet first and apologize later :)

  • theacs1966

    Burtonboy theacs1966 leafsince93 CanuckUKinToronto Ya I have only a small grasp of that but I think, if they’re still injured on Mon, they we will get some cap relief.

  • Burtonboy

    llistening to Nonis and Carlyle it sure as hell sounds to me like Rielly is gonna get his shot …for 9 games for sure

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto theacs1966 Oh no, not from me, not at this hour.  Trying to use the few legal terms I know.

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto TheCanucksnaphook theacs1966 Exactly what I did.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy That would be even better lol. Believe  it when it happens lol

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto theacs1966 I”m only up now because I shit the bed.  Metaphorically of course.

  • leafsince93

    https://twitter.com/DarrenDreger

    https://twitter.com/DarrenDreger/status/383187021096681472

    Confirming Cody Franson has
    agreed to a 1 yr, $2 mil dollar deal with the Leafs. Took far less, but
    got the 1 yr term he fought for.

  • theacs1966

    CanuckUKinToronto TheCanucksnaphook theacs1966 That he agreed, not signed.