If you have been living under a hockey-free rock today, you might have missed the news that Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel signed an 8 year contract extension with the Leafs for $64M. The extension will kick in for next season.
So, with the contracts of two big-name players from the Senators set to expire after next season, how does this signing affect the Ottawa Senators?
It comes down to the comparison between Kessel and Bobby Ryan. The two players are pretty much the same age, with Kessel being about 6 months younger. Kessel has more experience in the league, but in the last 5 years, Kessel has omly outscored Ryan by a count of 155-142. Both are among the top 6 goal scorers under 26 in the last 5 seasons, joining Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Corey Perry and Jonathan Toews. That’s some pretty select company, and none of them carry a cap hit of under $7.5M except for Toews, whose contract also expires at the same time as Ryan’s (current cap hit is $6.3M).
So while Ryan is currently well paid with a cap hit of $5.1M, you can expect the opening request from his camp to come in substantially higher than that. With a good season alongside Jason Spezza, Ryan could be in the Kessel range or beyond. Ryan was playing behind Corey Perry in Anaheim and didn’t get the prime scoring opportunities that Kessel did, and Ryan’s shooting percentage is amost 3% higher than Kessel’s over the last 5 years. Ryan also adds an element of ruggedness that Kessel does not (save for playing lumberjack). With a pass-first centre like Spezza, his goals should increase as should his power play percentage.
Kessel’s new contract is going to be the bar that is set for the next generation of players that are coming along, not a true superstar but a player who is great at the offensive side of the game.
With Ryan and Jason Spezza’s current contracts set to expire at the same time, the purse-strings are going to have to be loosened next summer, and the Phil Kessel contract is going to have a big impact on those negotiations. The Senators gave up too much to get Ryan to have him as just a 2 year (or less) rental player.
Thanks a lot, Toronto.
So, when can that Casino get built?