Maple Leafs' Nazem Kadri signs, Kessel waits | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMaple Leafs' Nazem Kadri signs, Kessel waits

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | 03:05 PM

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While Maple Leafs management has settled the contract of Nazem Kadri, left, before training camp, do they risk having fellow forward Phil Kessel, right, walk next summer as an unrestricted free agent or trade him at the deadline? (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press/File) While Maple Leafs management has settled the contract of Nazem Kadri, left, before training camp, do they risk having fellow forward Phil Kessel, right, walk next summer as an unrestricted free agent or trade him at the deadline? (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press/File)

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Nazem Kadri 'couldn't be happier' to sign a two-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while fellow forward and soon-to-be free agent Phil Kessel is content to talk contract after the upcoming NHL season, writes CBC Sports' Mike Brophy.
One guy got his contract and another doesn't want to talk about his.

The Toronto Maple Leafs came to terms with centre Nazem Kadri Tuesday night, avoiding a potentially messy situation. That leaves just defenceman Cody Franson unsigned and absent from training camp, which opened Wednesday with morning fitness testing and medicals.

Meanwhile, right-winger Phil Kessel reports he has not agreed to a contract extension with the Maple Leafs. Kessel and captain Dion Phaneuf are both entering the final years of their current agreements and you just know it is going to be a distraction moving forward.

Kadri's two-year deal is for just under $6 million US and he will now try to pick up where he left off last season when he took a big step toward being a contributing full-time National Hockey League player. The 22-year-old centre was second in club scoring with 18 goals and 44 points in 48 games. His play fell off a bit at the end.

Kadri was relieved to finally get the deal done that enabled him to be in camp.

"It feels good," Kadri said. "Just in time. I couldn't be happier to be honest. I'm happy to be back with the guys and the organization and at the end of the day this is the only place I wanted to play."

Kadri added he believes the deal is fair for both sides and that his teammates had been giving him the business the past couple of weeks regarding all the publicity his contract negotiations got in the media.

"You guys got me in trouble a couple of times," Kadri said with a laugh. "They're glad it's over. I'm sure they'll take me out for a nice dinner on me."

Top-10 scorer

Kessel led the Maple Leafs in scoring with 20 goals and 52 points in 48 games and it marked the second straight season he has been in the top 10 in scoring in the NHL. He will undoubtedly be aiming to hit a home run with his next contract and if he does go on the market next July, you can bet there will be teams tripping over one another to give him the term and the loot. 

To his credit, Kessel did have a very solid playoff during which he scored four goals and six points in seven games.

Kessel is a flashy, exciting player to watch, but is also prone to long scoring droughts. That will be taken into consideration, along with the fact he has never produced a 40-goal season in the NHL, when his people sit down to negotiate with the Leafs. 

The former Boston Bruin has made it quite clear he is happy playing in Toronto and even though shyness prevents him from being very media-friendly, he'd love to stay in a city where his every move is chronicled. Kessel has indicated he'd prefer not to negotiate during the season.

"Yeah, I'm sticking to that," he said. "I love Toronto. I love the city and the fans are great. We'll see what happens."

The big question now is, if the Maple Leafs can't sign him to a new agreement, do they risk having him walk next summer and get nothing in return or do they trade him at the deadline? General manager Dave Nonis doesn't believe it is an either-or scenario.

"If we get to that point and Phil isn't signed going into the season, then we play and work towards the end of the year," Nonis said. "It doesn't mean you're not going to get him signed."

HAD HIS PHIL: Kessel makes no bones about the fact he's not crazy about the pre-camp fitness testing the players are put through. "I did the Windgate Test and it's the only one I hate," Kessel said. "It's pretty hard. Everything else is alright. I don't know how I did. I guess I did alright, but we'll see. I think the test is stupid...go for 30 seconds as hard as you can; that's a tough test."

CROWDED CREASE: Coach Randy Carlyle likes the fact there is competition for the No. 1 goalie position. Jonathan Bernier was obtained from the Los Angeles Kings and will battle incumbent James Reimer for the starter's job.

"The best goaltender is going to play and if we have two that are real good then we're better for it," Carlyle said. "Do you think that one guy will take the ball and run with it? That's always a nice way for things to develop, but that's up to the individuals and it's up to how our team plays in front of them. 

When I made the statement that you win and you're in, it's pretty simple, but again if you play three games in four nights and your goaltender is 9-1 against the team that you are about to play and he hasn't played the three previous games, are you not going to go to him? That's a decision you make on the fly. We think it's healthy to have competition for the position."

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