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Coyotes Lock Up Clayton Keller Long Term

September 4, 2019, 2:14 PM ET [104 Comments]
James Tanner
Arizona Coyotes Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Coyotes locked up another core piece to a long-term contract today.

They have signed their franchise cornerstone to an eight year extension that will carry a $7.1 million cap-hit.

This is a fantastic deal in virtually every way.

It's so team-friendly, so low-risk to the Coyotes, that Keller should probably fire his agent.

Keller is 21, he was a steal at 7th overall and now he's locked up for his entire prime for what will most likely turn out to be several million dollars below market value.



As a rookie, Keller scored 65 points (more than the career high of Kevin Hayes who has a similar cap hit and is five or six years older).

Keller took a step back last year, and as such he's now locked up until he's 30 for the cost of a decent second liner.

And he projects to be an elite first liner.

There are concerns of course.

Keller is not good defensively, he doesn't drive the play, and he doesn't make his teammates better.

BUT....

That is just after 2 years, one when he was a teenager, playing on one of the worst teams in hockey.

There are very good odds that given his skill, he'll improve in the areas he lacks.

What you can't do is teach a player to have elite hands and vision, and Keller has those.

The history of 65 point rookies is such that this deal is a no-doubt home-run.

Sure, there is a small risk that he ends up being an expensive one-dimensional second liner. But compared to the chance that he could return team-friendly value on a seven million cap hit before the contract even starts (he still has one year to go on an ELC) it's a minute risk.

With TV revenue, expansion revenue and legalized gambling all set to improve the paychecks of NHL players in the near future; with OK second-liners like Kevin Hayes and Brock Nelson making a similar cap hit already, this deal has a huge probability of success for the Coyotes.

You could apparently sign Mitch Marner to an $11.5 eight year deal today, if you are to believe the rumours, and I'd say while he's no Marner, Keller isn't worth $4.5 million less either.

Nice deal for the Coyotes.

If Schmaltz, Keller, Chychrun and Dvorak all turn out to be good players, the Coyotes will have a nice little core for pennies on the dollar. Considering these deals don't even require the players to improve drastically to be at least acceptable, this seems to be a pretty sound strategy.

I advocated for someone to try this for years, and Chakya is actually doing it, so I couldn't be happier. Some will criticize this deal out of slavish devotion to current market value, but when you factor everything in, it's a really smart move.
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