5 reasons the Kessel deal works

Updated: October 1, 2013, 2:00 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Phil Kessel didn't want to negotiate a contract extension during the regular season, so the two sides worked hard to get it in just under the bell. Colleague Pierre LeBrun reports that Kessel's new deal with the Maple Leafs is a healthy one: Eight additional seasons at $8 million per season. But despite the risk that comes with any long-term deal, it's a manageable risk for Toronto. Here are five reasons why this contract works for the Maple Leafs:

1. It's fair market value. There are two common mistakes made when evaluating contracts in the cap era. One is comparing the contract of a potential unrestricted free agent to a deal signed by a restricted free agent. Yes, Kessel will be earning more than Steven Stamkos. No, it's not fair to compare the two. Furthermore, deals signed before term limitations were put in place under the new collective bargaining agreement shouldn't be compared, either. It's why Sidney Crosby's cap hit is $8.7 million and Evgeni Malkin's will be $9.5 million next season. Kessel's new deal should be compared to other fellow potential UFAs who signed in the new environment that caps deals at eight years. In this case, the best comparable player is Corey Perry, who signed an eight-year contract worth $69 million to stay in Anaheim. The going rate for a starting goalie right now is $6 million per season, and a star winger is $8 million. Franchise centers are now worth north of that, as the Chicago Blackhawks will find out when it comes time to extend Jonathan Toews.