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NHL Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs Must Lock Up Phil Kessel

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It is time to look at the Toronto Maple Leafs and what needs to happen in the offseason for them. I’m sure the team is still reeling from their Game 7 collapse in the first round of the NHL playoffs, but as the team moves into the 2013-14 season, they need to spend some time locking up one of their star players for the future. Phil Kessel has just one year left on his contract, and the Maple Leafs can’t afford to let him leave town after next year.

Kessel led Toronto with 52 points this season including 20 goals. He is only 25 years old as well so with a player that young heading into his prime, Toronto will need to open the checkbook. I could see Kessel ending up with a contract that is for over $6 million a season, but I would just lock him up for seven or eight years while I’m at it and make this a non-story for a long time to come.

The fan base in Toronto can’t be pleased with how things finished this year. Their stars will need to step up in an even bigger way next year, and that begins with Kessel and the distraction that the contract could become if the team doesn’t take care of this. There are already enough black clouds hanging around as the summer begins, and the Leafs can’t afford a public relations nightmare with leaving Kessel hanging in the final year of his contract. I hope the Maple Leafs understand the level of concern that is possible in this situation and get Kessel a new deal before next season begins.

Andy Schmidt is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ASchmidtSports, like his Facebook page or add him to your network on Google.