Columnist: Leafs should get Kessel deal done before Christmas

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Phil Kessel is headed into the final year of his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs and that’s got some in Toronto hoping they’ll get an extension done soon.

One of those people is the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox and he has a timetable and a contract suggestion for GM Dave Nonis to consider.

…an eight-year deal in the $70 million range is in the offing, and all indications are that Kessel wants to stay in Toronto and that the Leafs are determined to keep him and pay him the huge money.

If that’s the case, the Leafs need get this matter wrapped up before Christmas, rather than have it linger into next winter and close to the trade deadline.

Getting a new deal done for him sooner than later is almost certainly a good idea. An eight-year, $70 million deal for Kessel may sound outrageous until you consider he’ll be just 26 years old next summer and truly coming into his prime now.

It’s probably a good thing the salary cap is going up after this season and beyond because Leafs GM Dave Nonis is going to need all the room he can muster with Kessel and Dion Phaneuf both eligible for free agency next year.