Happy Birthday Phil Kessel.
The now 26-year-old Maple Leafs forward is celebrating by counting all the zeros in his new 8 year, $64-million contract extension.
The debate now rages on among Leafs fans and haters as to whether Kessel is worth the commitment Toronto has made to him.
Kessel is now the 8th highest paid player in the NHL, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Cory Perry, Chris Getzlaf, Eric Staal and Claude Giroux.
He hasn’t won a major individual award, and neither has Giroux.
Phil hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, but neither has Giroux or Ovechkin.
Over the last three seasons, Kessel is 9th in league scoring and 4th in goals, behind only Ovi, Perry and Steven Stamkos.
Kessel isn’t a complete player when you include qualities like toughness, defensive play and being a vocal leader in the dressing room.
He’s like a striker in soccer, a guy who is always dangerous and able to create space and generate offense.
The only way this deal will turn in to a boat anchor is if Phil gets hurt, which he hasn’t in the last three seasons, or doesn’t continue to be a perennial 35 goal, 80 point player.
At the end of the day, Kessel had the leverage in negotiations with the Maple Leafs, and I think the term and price was based on getting him under contract for his prime time years as a player.