With all of the hullabaloo surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs and their big roster shakeup this summer, it’s easy to overlook one massive detail in regard to this team: Phil Kessel is going to be a free agent next summer. Which means an extension has to be heavy on the mind of Dave Nonis.
Kessel has said that he’s open to signing an extension in Toronto, but the movement on such a deal has been little. One would imagine that the Leafs would want to keep their top scorer, and one of the most dangerous wingers in the league. But no one really knows what is going on inside the mind of Nonis.
It helps that the the Leafs brought back Kessel’s buddy Tyler Bozak, who was a free agent this summer. But holding unrestricted free agent status next year, there’s no guarantee Kessel will be back. Especially with the amoung of long term contracts this team has inked players two in the last few years.
Kessel is one of the purest scoring wingers in the game. It’s often overlooked as to how much of an asset he actually is to this team. Prior to the lockout shortened 2013 season, he had four consecutive seasons of at least 30 goals, and would have easily hit it this year in a full season, as he potted 20.
He’s also a solid playmaker up there. Elite scoring wingers don’t exactly grow on trees, and the Maple Leafs obviously don’t want to see theirs walk away as a free agent. Both sides likely want a deal, even if one doesn’t get done. If it does, though, what would it cost the Maple Leafs?
The easy question here is the money. Elite players in this league haven’t been taking less than $7 million recently. He’ll easily see up between $7-8 million, likely closer to eight. The question will be the years. But that will probably be in the neighborhood of between five and seven, taking Kessel barely into his 30’s.
We’ll see how this works out for the Leafs. The closer Kessel gets to free agency, though, the more risky waiting to sign him to a new deal gets. It’ll be interesting to see how they approach a potential extension in the coming months, and what that final product eventually looks like.