Kessel, Leafs working on contract extension; could get done tomorrow

Rick Madonik/Toronto Star

As we talked about last week, there seems to be a concerted effort to get an inevitably massive Phil Kessel contract extension signed before the regular season begins tomorrow. Kessel is reported to have no interest in the distraction of negotiating during the regular season, which never made sense to me, because getting a deal done in Toronto is far less interesting to the circling mob of Toronto media members than it is to have him playing out the string unsigned. That’s like 8 months of question material out the window.

Darren Dreger, Chris Johnston and Bob McKenzie have all put some more momentum behind the story tonight with a series of Tweets:

Getting a sense Phil Kessel's contract extension in TOR could get done as early as Tues. Leafs and Kessel's agents working towards that.

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 1, 2013

But no one has confirmed it's done yet. So we'll see. If it's done, I would expect it'll be $8M per year, give or take $500K, for 7 or 8 yrs

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 1, 2013

Neither Leafs nor Newport Sports (Kessel's agent) is commenting on extension speculation, however, sense is there will be news tomorrow.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2013

There’s really not a whole lot of mystery involved with this contract, it’s just a matter of getting it done before the season and not risking a whole bunch of things going wrong. Like Phil finally hitting the 40-goal plateau and demanding even more money, from a more leveraged position, or the Leafs having an unexpectedly terrible season and Kessel looking into other options, or Bozak and Kessel getting into a serious roommate argument over the dirty dishes, making Phil question a once-burgeoning bromance. Or, more simply, the risk of letting Kessel get within weeks of free agency once the seasons ends, and him knowing a name like his hitting the open market on July 1 is going to make 29 other teams in the league crash and bang into each other backing up their Brinks trucks.

Phil is going to get $7.5 million-$8.5 million over 7 or 8 years, and the Leafs have to give it to him. Simple as that.

Knowing it’s done and dusted would be a nice little gift before tomorrow’s season opener.