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Arizona Coyotes lock-up Clayton Keller for eight years

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The 2016 first-round pick will remain in the desert until 2028.

Calgary Flames v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes have today announced that they have secured the services of Clayton Keller for eight more years once his entry-level contract expires.

Keller, who was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season, will now remain in the desert until 2028.

Although it is club policy to not reveal financial details of any contracts, respected Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman revealed on Twitter that it appears Keller will hold an AAV of $7.15 million when his new deal kicks in.

The 2019/20 season will be a crucial one for Keller, who had a down year after impressing during his rookie season, registering 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists) in a full 82-game campaign. Keller followed it up with just 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) in his sophomore season in 2018/19.

This was a trend among all Coyotes players, who managed to keep the team in the playoff hunt right up until the final week of the season despite seeing a number of their teammates miss extensive periods of time due to injuries.

Despite the lower overall production, Keller was still named as the Coyotes’ representative at the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose, being the youngest player in the team’s history to attend, and went on to represent Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, earning two goals and two assists in eight games with his country.

With one more year on his entry-level deal, the Arizona Coyotes will now be looking to see the American develop his chemistry with the likes of Nick Schmaltz and Phil Kessel, both of whom he is likely to spend a lot of time alongside.

Schmaltz and Keller looked to be building a strong on-ice relationship together last season before the former Chicago Blackhawks centre suffered a season-ending injury, giving the organization plenty of hope for a high points producing pair moving forward.

The addition of Kessel certainly takes the pressure off Keller over the forthcoming season, with the 21-year-old no longer needing to be the team’s biggest hope in the offensive zone.

Keller will need to continue to produce in order to justify his high cap hit, but a year of working alongside Schmaltz and Kessel, particularly on the power-play, could certainly help the young Missouri native take the next step in his development.

The biggest positive for the Coyotes will be the term, seeing their seventh-overall selection in the 2016 Draft stick around well into the next decade - with his salary increasing from $5.5M in the first year of the deal to $8.7M in its final year.

The salary cap could be close to $100 million by the time Keller’s next contract expires, so having him locked down to just over $7 million a year throughout his prime will looking like a great piece of business for general manager John Chayka.

Keller will be 30 when his next contract expires, so the Arizona Coyotes truly have his best years secured one year ahead of time.

The young winger has already impressed during his brief spell in the desert, becoming just the third player after Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk to have four different six-game point streaks before his 100th game.

He also broke the record for most points of any Coyotes player during his first 100 games, with 79 total points and 28 goals.

With the Coyotes record for most points before his 21st birthday, Keller is already embedding himself into the history of the organization and will have a legitimate opportunity to work towards reaching Shane Doan’s all-time franchise records.