Leafs’ Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf may get big payday next year

The two marquee names on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, are both slated for unrestricted free agency next July. Which means somewhere out there are agents and lawyers working for the players and on management’s side, furiously trying to determine exactly what the two are worth and what kind of contract each can reasonably expect on the open market.

Here’s an educated guess at where they’re going to end up.

Phil Kessel

I believe the market indicates that the 25-year-old Phil Kessel is valued at approximately $8.1 million per season on a max contract, which would be eight years with the Leafs and seven with anyone else. This assessment is based on what the market has paid for elite scorers in recent seasons.

Dion Phaneuf

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf’s value going forward is also a hot topic. Aside from Kimmo Timonen, Dan Boyle, and Andrei Markov — all on the wrong side of 35 — Phaneuf is the only available defenceman who carries significant offensive value. Significantly, he is 28.

So what is he worth? I think the market dictates Phaneuf’s value at approximately five years and $34.5 million for an average of $6.9 million. It is in his interest to look for a deal that would take him to 34, allowing his next contract to kick in before the 35+ contract clause kicks in. Such a contract makes him more marketable to teams on a new long-term contract at that point in his career.