Not all contract negotiations have to be of the knock-down, drag-out variety.
Twelve months before truly reaching a pressure point, the Arizona Coyotes have locked up dynamic winger Clayton Keller to an eight-year contract extension. Craig Morgan of The Athletic reports that the now-third-year winger will earn $7.15 million annually through the maximum-term contract scheduled to expire in 2028.
League source: AAV on Clayton Keller's 8-year deal will be $7.15M. https://t.co/xdoMU50AEm
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) September 4, 2019
While seemingly an equitable agreement, in assessing the risk included on the deal, if nothing it points to a gamble on the side of the organization. Keller took a bit of a step back after shining as a rookie, posting 14 goals and 47 points after a 65-point Calder Trophy-nominated debut.
He hasn’t been a dominant play driver at even-strength either, and he really wasn’t a significant threat with his power-play ice in his second season.
Still, the immense talent that made him the seventh overall selection in the 2016 Draft remains, and he should be better insulated on a Coyotes team that continues to add talent at the forward position after the addition of Phil Kessel.
Keller is scheduled to be the highest-earning forward and second highest-paid skater on the Coyotes when his contract extension kicks in at the end of the upcoming season.
In addition, his $7.15 million salary should serve as something of a reference point in negotiations that still must be completed this summer, in that the large majority of the talented restricted free agents still waiting on a contract can confidently argue that they deserve more on a long-term agreement.
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