Will Kesler walk the talk?

It’s good to hear that the Canucks are now setting their sights on signing Ryan Kesler to a contract extension (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province; Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun).

“Our intention was to begin speaking with [Kesler’s agent Kurt Overhardt] once we got some other business taken care of,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said. “And now we have that business taken care of.”

It was only a few months ago when Kesler talked about players signing less than market value contracts and give themselves a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup.

“That’s what we need everybody to do,” Kesler told The Province last March. “If we’re going to win the Cup, we need guys to take pay cuts. The way the salary cap is now, you really can’t get what you’re worth now if you want to win. Everybody in this locker-room knows that and for us to be a great team going forward, we’re going to have to take a pay cut.”

To varying extents, you could argue that Alex Burrows, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Roberto Luongo have all done that, and now, it’s Kesler’s turn to walk the talk.

With 59 points – including 32 points in his final 32 games last season – and a Selke trophy nomination, it’s obvious that he outperformed his $1.75 million contract. The question is whether or not his point-a-game pace was a fluke or is more indicative of his future potential.

In 2007, the Edmonton Oilers signed Dustin Penner to a 5-year/$21.25 million contract ($4.25 mil/year) after Penner scored 29 goals and 45 points; he’s averaged 20 goals and 42 points since.

On the other hand, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Jeff Carter to a 3-year/$15 million contract ($5 mil/year) after Carter scored 29 goals and 55 points in the 2007/2008 season; he’s since followed it up with 46 goals last season.

This past off-season, notable comparables include David Booth (31G-29A-60P, 6-year/$25.5 million, $4.25 mil/year), Travis Zajac (20G-42A-62P, 4-year, $15.55 million, $3.887 mil/year), and Ryan Clowe (22G-30A-52P, 4-year/$15 million, $3.75 mil/year).

As a 25-goal, 60-point guy, Kesler deserves a contract worth at least $4 million per year. (At least that’s what the RFA market currently dictates.) Will he play well enough to actually earn it? And if he does, is he willing to take a bit less like he’s preached in the past?

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

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