NHL Morning Rumor Mill – Thursday, August 22, 2013.

The latest on Phil Kessel, Mikhail Grabovski,  Hal Gill and more.

Phil Kessel could be in line for big bucks after this season.

Phil Kessel could be in line for big bucks after this season.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox speculates an eight-year deal in the $70 million range could be in the offing for Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel. All indications suggest Kessel wants to remain a Leaf and the club is determined to keep him. Cox hopes the Leafs get Kessel re-signed before Christmas, rather than having his contract status linger throughout the rest of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cue the multiple “No way Kessel’s worth $8.75 million per season!” outrage from some Leafs fans. Well, if Kessel meets or exceeds his career-best numbers (37 goals, 82 points in 2011-12), he’ll almost certainly get that contract. If the Leafs won’t pay him that much, another team certainly will via free agency.  

While the Leafs might prefer waiting until June to determine just how much the salary cap will increase for 2014-15 (and it will increase), I agree with Cox that they should try to get him re-sign before Christmas.  Right now, his value is likely between $7 – $7.5 million per season, but that will surely increase if his performance continues to improve.

CSN WASHINGTON: Brian McNally believes until UFA center Mikhail Grabovski signs somewhere, he’ll continue to be linked to the Washington Capitals whether the evidence is there the Capitals want him or not. McNally suggests Grabovski would make a better second-line center for the Caps than Brooks Laich, but noted Grabovski’s rumored desire to “double-dip” (with his old contract and a new one) may be why he remains unsigned.

He also believes Grabovski might have to accept a one-year contract to build up his value, but it remains to be seen if the Capitals would be interested. McNally noted Anaheim, Florida, Nashville and Calgary still need top-six centers, but wondered if Grabovski would sign with a non-contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals could have around $3 million remaining (once they re-sign Marcus Johansson) if they wish to sign Grabovski or somebody else. Capitals GM George McPhee earlier last month said he has no interest in the players still available in the UFA market.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle reports Hal Gill is among a number of NHL free agents anxious to find new homes. Others include forwards Mikhail Grabovski, Damian Brunner, Brad Boyes, Vinny Prospal, Brenden Morrow and Mason Raymond, plus defensemen Ron Hainsey, Filip Kuba, Ian White, Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney and Doug Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reduced salary cap has taken a toll upon second-tier free agent talent. I expect a number of these players will be signed in September, either before or during preseason. 


  1. Well, if Kessel wants that kinda money, he’ll certainly have to prove it this Season. But he is certainly worth it, because he can put up good numbers for not having a legit 1C, or even a real top 5 team in the East. He won’t be extended till the Season is nearing an end, because up to Christmas, is not really an true forecast as to what he brings for production-wise. If he can score…for example…: 35-40g, 45-55a = 80-95pts, then yes he is worth the ball-park figures of $8M – $8.75M per. If the Leafs are to show and prove to players that they’ll be serious at keeping talent, then something like this is mandatory.

    • I can’t imagine any player making Crosby/Malkin money, especially considering the discount those two are giving PIT.

      However, regardless of what Kessel does this season, at least 5 teams will pay him $7M per, so the Leafs need to be prepared to pony up.

    • The reasons why you say he wont be signed before christmas (slow start etc.) maybe the biggest reason to sign him early, Phil the 30 goal scorer will be cheaper than if he gets hot later in the year and ends up going for 40 +.

      • Plus it gets all the pressure off from the media, which can at times be a big factor in Phils performance.

  2. “Double Dipping” didn’t pose a problem for Danny Briere (who not only got a windfall when he was bought out of the last two years of his deal, but also signed a contract with the Habs that sees him make more money than he would have made on that deal), so it’s a little silly to think GMs aren’t signing Grabovski because of some principled stand against bought out players signing for what they’re worth.

    More likely Grabo’s asking price is just straight up too high.

    • Yeah, but the upside that Briere has over Grabo, is that he is a great playoff performer

    • Danny never fought with their teammates and blasted his coach in the media or bit other players and admitted to it, or went -10 in seven playoff games. Could be a reason why double dipping never really effected his demands.

      • Shticky – exactly why GM’s are hesitant to sign Grabo – I think they are being very careful with the chemistry of their teams.

  3. I like Gill’s chances to ANA, now that Souray is done for 4-5 months.

    • ANA already signed Fistric. Try to keep up Rob. :)

      • ha! I take that back, and stand corrected.
        I still think Skillsy would be the better choice… especially for a one year deal.

  4. One thing for sure, Kessel is greedy. Nonis is going to have his hands full with this guy.

    • A lot of them are, their agents like it that way….Im willing to bet there is no waiting on Kessel he will have a contract long before the deadline, Nonis will have his hands tied, never mind full if he waits too long. I cant see Phill making it to UFA.

      • not a chance.

    • Majority of all hockey players are greedy, to be paid millions to play this sport. Why would Kessel sign a hometown discount, when players are making such high amounts? If I were in Kessel’s situation, I would want to be paid like Giroux, Getzlaf, Perry, and E.Staal. $8M+ range. But what will likely happen, Kessel will be paid like; Nash, Parise, Gaborik, Stamkos, Spezza, Heatley, Datsyuk, Semin, and Vanek. $7M+ range.

      If Nonis can get this sooner (before Christmas), than later (before Season’s end), I could see Kessel getting this type of deal; 8 years, $7.5M per, for $60M…or; 8 years, $7.75M per, $62M.

      • Nash, Parise, Gaborik, Stamkos, Spezza, Heatley, Datsyuk, Semin, and Vanek, most of them signed contract under different cap with different circumstances. For Instance: Stamkos was RFA, Spezza took that huge contract when cap was 50M (I thin), Vanek offer sheet was matched, Nash cashed in BIG time when cap was in mid 40th (I think). Datsyuk career is coming to an end, Parise contract was over 10 years about 100 million etc etc etc…

        Even so, Kessel for 7.75M a year? Ouch.. Not worth such money but he will demand it for sure. Not blaming Kessell but business is business.

        • Not so much Phil will demand, but rather the market. Teams will be overjoyed to pay Kessel $7.5-8.0 per. 2 seasons in a row he finished 6th overall in pts. You’re going to make an argument that 15 players should be paid higher than him?

        • Aside from the difference circumstances, nonetheless, with the Cap to rise after the 2013-14 Season, in fairness to the dollars those whom I have mentioned, will be tabled for Kessel to get. Likely the start of negotiations will start off at his Agent wanting $8M+ per, and the Leafs/Nonis starting off their end of the negotiations at around $6M – $6.5M per. All will end with meeting in the middle at about $7.25M per.

          • *different circumstances

    • How do you know kessel is greedy? Last I heard both his brother and bozak live under kessel’s roof. It is also rumoured that bozak’s contract, was partially signed to keep kessel happy and long term. Call me crazy but these are characteristics of a loyal and committed person. Sharing is not a sign of greed. I bet he takes a pay cut but were not talking millions of dollars more like 8yrs, 7.5 per year with whatever the maximum signing bonus is and a maximum bonus for a set production eg kessel gets 80pts he get a nice little check of 1.5 mill. I must point out I don’t know the cba’s rules on bonuses. If you could help out with that spec it wold be appreciated.

      • Talk to Boston fans…

        • Ha, I’d rather not.. that would be a depressing conversation. Those poor fans lose Kessel, then they lose the “man” they traded him away for?

          • Not exactly lost: Eriksson was/is steady 70 pts producer on a bad Dallas team and Dougie Hamilton developing right.

          • @nitroglycerin101

            Yes exactly, as he (Seguin) was drafted with the draft pick we gave’em, and was going to be their face-of-the-franchise sorta speak. Sure Chara is, but their future was Seguin. We all know how good Eriksson is, but he isn’t apart of the whole Leafs/Bruins trade saga. Now Boston only has; Hamilton and Knight from that trade, while we have Kessel who is still improving…and is already an elite-type player. I think we can safely say we won that trade now.

          • don’t kid yourself.. Hamilton is a prospect, he’s no seasoned pro… let alone a seasoned pro who’s name should be even in a Kessel conversation.

    • the thing with phil is even taking an 8 year deal at 70mil would be a huge pay cut. Look at Parise 100 mil 10 year deal. I would say these players are very comparable with point production wise, I see more offensive upside from kessel entering his prime while parise offers scoring and defense. But after watching Kessel play last season i cant tell how many times he used his speed to break up a breakaway.

      a thing leafs fans and haters alike fail to see is this guy is an elite scorer in the league, something Toronto hasn’t had for awhile! you pony up the cash like every other team does to keep this kind of talent on your team.

      Clarkson’s deal is hit or miss depending on what he brings (since it might not be a heck of a lot of scoring) With Kessel you know what your getting, one of the best shooters in hockey and most competitive players on the ice. 2 straight point per game seasons with bozak on your line? Enough said.

      • only in Leafs land would this be questioned. under carlyle, kessel is a different player. still scores the same, but he is WAY more responsible defensively.

        • And Im pretty sure the Leafs gave Clarkson that knd of money for more reasons then his scoring….they know or at least they hope they know what they are getting and thats some toughness to play in their top 6 and some leadership, the goals are a part but a much smaller part.

          • the goals are a major part of it. if he was a 15 goal scorer, he’s not make more than $3M. if he wasn’t as tough as he is, he’s still making $4.5M.

          • Im not so sure they expect 30 goals from Clarkson it would be nice but not expected, I am sure they expect him to be hard to play against (gritty) make room for teammates and be able to chip in when he can. If they were looking for goal scoring they could have kept Grabo or CMack who are capable of putting up 20-30 goals far cheaper then Clarkson’s contract. As I said goals are a part of it but the intangibles are the bigger part.

      • @Clarky: Cap hit of Parise’s contract is about 7.5mil not 10mil and the deal is 98mil. for 13 years.

    • Players are not greedy. If you had an opportunity to put a value on yourself I’m sure it will be higher than most people will think you’re worth. Does that make you greedy? No, it’s about trying to get what you believe you are worth in comparison to others like yourself so you will continue to enjoy your employment.

      Agents on the other hand, greedy lowlife scums.

      • Exactly…

      • Thats the business for the most part…accept for Coturier, whats up with that cheap contract? Someone should probably let him know the Flyers generally pay pretty good…thats even cheap for a bridge deal.

  5. How is Hal Gill not done yet? Never been the fleetest of foot now old even more lumbering and bought out by Nashville…just retire already.

    Whoever signs him will have to get him to sign something saying he will go no further then his own blueline, so he can be in some kind of position (just with his wingspan) if the play starts coming towards their end.

    • Why bash Gill? Just like any player in the twilight of his career he can still be an effective player if kept to his strengths. No one is saying he’s a top 4 anymore, but he’s a perfect addition for a) penalty killing, b) defense only presence, c) playoff experience. At this point he’s also very affordable. He’s been around so many teams because he’s been coveted, not because he’s unwanted. Place him with an offensive minded partner and it’s an effective combination.

      • Not really bashing him, its the truth hes a 38, slow moving d man at the best of times, past his prime, I really liked Gill for most his career but honestly its time to hang them up imo. If he is going to be a 6 or 7 D anyway why fill a roster spot with him? To me it would make more sense to have a younger guy in a position like that to get his feet wet without having to be relied on too much gradually working up his minutes or ateast someone who could move up if you ran into injuries. If Gill is 6 or 7 and someone gets hurt you maybe calling a guy up to take more minutes then he is ready for, and Gill is still your 6 or 7. In some situations I guess he could be ok, but Im sure there are better options available.

        • Gill or Hainsey for example…both going to be under 2 mill probably closer to 1 at this point of their careers I take Hainsey 10 outa 10 times,

    • ah, he’s just bored. Hal was a major reason (aside from Price) why MTL stunned the Pens a few years back.

      he’ll be a major depth/leadership asset to any playoff bound team.

      • You mean aside from Halak?

        • LOL… @nitro, i’m just tossin taders out today, and you’re all over it.
          Yes, Halak.

      • Agreed. I actually see him signing a 1-yr deal as a 7th defenceman with a team that promises him a coaching gig after he retires. Gill would be a natural for that, and many teams would be lucky to have him.

        • I can see the Devils or Carolina signing Gill

        • * assistant coaching.

  6. The team that pays Kessel in excess of 7 million/yr is the team destined to miss the playoffs every year of that contract. Leafs management be warned.

    • Wow!

    • I think you’re not aware of the going rate for a 30 goal scorer, or a top 6 in the league point producer.

    • what kind of points would this guy produce if he had an actual top 6 C.. let alone playing on a top 10 team?

      this guy is much better than what we’ve seen, and what we’ve seen is top 6 in pts year over year.

      • For once we agree.

      • The same amount (maybe a handful more) of points he produced when playing along Marc Savard. We have already seen Kessels best IMO. He is not a complete player. He avoids contact at all costs. He is now finally earning his 5.7. To pay him 7 plus is a recipe for a losing team. Stop comparing him to other top 6 players who actually play a complete game AND put up points.

        • like that Gritty guy Gaborik and his “complete” game or the Sedins?…how bout Alex Semin? Nik “the Backchecker” Backstrom? and no Phil has produced more since he left the Bruins….follow along

          • All great examples of other overpaid players on teams who do not get it done when it counts. You’ve made my point.

            Just because a player gets overpaid somewhere else doesn’t mean you should overpay your better players (see recent Stanley Cup Champions rosters). Kessel is a scorer with speed to burn no doubt, but he has enough flaws in his game that tell me he should never be the highest paid player on a winning team. He habitually takes alternate routes to pucks to avoid contact and does very little to lead a team character wise. Yes, he scores goals in bunches but despite being proclaimed a 40-50 goal guy, he has actually done that zero times over his career. In Kessel’s last year with Boston he scored 36 goals and was a plus 23. His last full season (82 games) with Toronto he scored 37 with more helpers but was a minus 23. Sure he is evolving into a point/game player which makes it even more peculiar that he continues to be a minus player with Toronto even on a team that made the playoffs. 2011-12 – 82 points in 82 games but a minus 10? 2012/-13 – 52 points in 48 games and still a minus 3? He does put up points but he also costs his team at the other end.

            I’ve been following along pretty well!

            I sincerely ask: Does a team with genuine Stanley Cup aspirations want their highest paid player to be Phil Kessel?

            I’m not a huge fan of comparables because each and every player is different. But for the sake of playing along…how about these comparables if you must: Towes at 6.3, Sharp at 5.9, Datsyuk at 6.7, Zetterberg just over 6, Kopitar, Richards and Carter all under 7, Krejci under 6 and Bergeron under 7 (with deal deal kicking in 14).

            I also put more value in centremen compared to wingers every day of the week. Simply possessing the puck (which centremen factor in on more than anyone on a draw) is an huge intangible. Unless you are the reincarnation of Neely or Shanahan who could pretty much do it all, I am not paying a scoring, soft winger that kind of dough.

        • your talking about a phil kessel who was 20 when he played with savard and is now entering the prime of his career. put him on a line with good players and he would be unstopable. Known for scoring but one hell of a passer also, just ask lupul and Van Remsdyk

          • Also his +23 is a part of boston’s overall team effort. The leafs aren’t at the stage where boston is due to the lack of talent surrounding. Also on your point of Centers?

            Who is available that we can pay that kind of money too? who is available via trade? no one, teams that have them keep them because they are valuable. What kessel does is make everyone on his line better. Bozak wins faceoffs and pretty much just lets kessel do the rest and finds an open spot. Slot in someone that can help kessel in offense and you have a hell of a line.

            Also kessel never shied away from getting tagged by chara in the playoffs, he took the hit, got back up and scored 6pts in 7 games.

          • Yes for SOME of those 7 games in May he at times pretended to be OK with contact. Point taken but far from sold. With all the energy and excitement only those with no pulse couldn’t help but bump into someone.

            As for who to bring in. I would trade Phil while his value is at its peak (at least I think it is) before I eat up 7-8 mill of my teams cap space on that kind of player.

            You talk about once he gets to play with good players? JVR and Lupul are not too shabby if you ask me. If Lupuls health wasn’t a on-going factor, I would take a team of Lupul’s over a team of Kessel’s all day long and probably get them at a cheaper rate.

            To often GM’s are wooed by goals, assists and points and pay accordingly. Time to woo another GM into taking/paying him at his peak and make this team even better.

          • Also how did Lupul (plus 8) and Kadri (plus 15) manage to be plus players with fewer points than Kessel? Kadri was on for 18 fewer goals than Kessel at even strength. Over only 48 games that is significant.

            Despite the hype of special teams, the majority of a game is played 5-5 and my top/highest paid player needs to be my best player 5-5 or very close to it. There are several guys on last years Leaf team that are better even strength players than Kessel.

          • Your argument makes no sense. He is in the top 5 or 6 in points in the past 5 years, players dont get paid acording to position they get paid according to production, he should be paid like his comparables, you may consider the others mentioned over paid but apperently Carolina and Columbus dont have any problem what they are paying gus to score goals Columbus traded for Gaborik Carolina signed Semin. Are you saying teams should only give that type money to guys who win cups and everyone else should take less until they win a few rounds in the playoffs? Yes I get it he was a minus player he also played top lines more then Kadri who granted played less minutes but also lesser competition so lets not look too much in to plus minus last year was a strange one for Lupul with injuries and streaks and other weirdness so again not really any way to judge Phil or what he should be paid.

            When you are talking contracts you have to use comparables weather you like it or not top scorers in the league get paid similar to others who do the same thing regardless if you think they are overpaid

            Finally with your examples of guys who seem to have cheaper deal how many of them are kinda circumventing deals that were signed before this CBA I doubt Phill is making 10 million the first year similar to Datsyuk of his deal I could be wrong but I doubt it, and he is not getting Richards and Carter 11 and 12 year deals.

          • Zetterberg 12 year deal that trails off to 1 million from 7.75

          • Stamkos had 57 points in 48 games was a – 4 he overpaid too? Pretty sure Tampa Bay isnt paying him to backcheck.

  7. Habs signed Douglas Murray to a 1 year, 1 way contract

    • $1.5M. As a Habs fan, and with Emelin out, I’m very happy with that signing!

  8. Aaron Ward ‏@aaronward_nhl 10m
    Mikhail Grabovski and the Washington Capitals have come to terms on a 1 year deal. #TSN

  9. I had to post on this about kessel. Whatever the leafs sign him for will be what he is worth. As a leaf fan if he got 8 milly a season i would be totally fine with it. I know its hard for everyone to see now but Phil Kessel could go down as one of the best leafs ever, well at least since the 80’s on. I never watched any player before that time. If he has a couple more 30 plus goal seasons maybe a 40 goal season in there and they make the playoffs consistently he would have to be considered. And say they do finally end that drought and win a stanley cup he would have done things Sundin, Clark, Gilmore and Sittler could not do. Sign this guy, I love to watch him when he is on the ice.