The Toronto Maple Leafs and forward Phil Kessel have agreed in principle on an eight-year maximum term contract extension, according to Darren Dreger of TSN on Tuesday morning. Dreger reports that the financial compensation will be approximately $8 million per season, which would put the total at around $64 million.
This means Kessel will be earning one of the top-15 total salaries, as well as one of the top-10 cap hits in the league. While the deal has yet to be finalized, it's expected to be finished at some point on Tuesday.
Kessel is entering the final year of a five-year, $27 million contract that carries an annual average value of $5.4 million against the salary cap, according to CapGeek.com. The 25-year-old forward was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Kessel previously stated that he was unwilling to negotiate an extension during the season and expressed that unrestricted free agency was something he might be interested in exploring.
However, most believed that Toronto would be willing to offer Kessel a sizable offer that would make the open-market less appealing. That, apparently, is what took place.
Originally chosen with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, Kessel was acquired by the Maple Leafs in 2009 in exchange for two first-round picks (2010, 2011) and a second round selection in the 2010 draft. Boston ultimately used the picks to select Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Jared Knight.
In 504 career regular season games, Kessel has registered 379 points (185 goals and 194 assists), while averaging 17:47 of ice-time per game. He has scored 30 goals or more four times in his career, which culminated in a career-high 37 goals in 2011-12 (he also produced at a point-per game pace that season with 82 points). During the lockout shortened 2013 season, Kessel accumulated 20 goals in 48 games.
More from SB Nation NHL: