Coyotes sign forward Keller to 8-year contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Hockey teams, except on rare occasions, typically wait until a player has a decent-sized body of work before making a long-term commitment.

The Arizona Coyotes saw enough in two productive seasons from Clayton Keller to lock him up before he becomes a restricted free agent.

The Coyotes signed Keller on Wednesday to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual salary of $7.15 million, meaning the playmaking right wing could remain in the desert through the 2027-28 season.

“At its core, the philosophy is that we just don’t want to have to follow the herd,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said via conference call. “We want to make proactive decisions. Following the herd will ensure that you’ll never be No. 1.”

The Coyotes used the seventh overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft on Keller, a slightly built forward from Chesterfield, Missouri.

Keller’s size led to questions about the pick and whether the 5-foot-10, 170-pound forward could handle the rigours of the NHL.

Using his skill and craftiness, Keller quickly developed into one of Arizona’s best players. He set a Coyotes rookie record with a 10-game points streak and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2017-18 after leading Arizona with 23 points and 42 assists.

Last season, the 21-year-old became the youngest Coyotes player to earn an All-Star nod and joined Dale Hawerchuk and Teemu Selanne as the only players in franchise history to have four separate points streaks of at least six games within the first 100 games of his career.

“Clayton Keller is a player you want on your team,” Chayka said. “The value of the contract will be debated and will be played out for many years, but the reality is that the player wanted to sign here long-term, wanted to be here and is going to be a part of this team for a long time.”

Keller had an inconsistent second NHL season despite playing in the All-Star game, finishing with nine fewer goals and 18 fewer points than his rookie season. He still managed to lead the team with 47 points and has the kind of skill level to complement high-scoring forward Phil Kessel, signed in the off-season.

“This is a new start,” said Keller, who has 37 goals and 77 assists in 167 career games. “There’s nothing to worry about and I can just go out and play my best. I’m just so excited to be here for eight more years. This is going to be a great year.”

The Coyotes are banking on many more, too.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta announces 98 new cases of COVID-19

City of Red Deer has no COVID-19-related deaths

The Red Deer Public Market will not open next month

It’s being postponed indefinitely to reduce public gatherings

Women’s Fun Run is ‘re-imagined’ for May 9

Families can register for free and do any activity at home

WATCH: Red Deer emergency call centre hours change starting next week

Hours at the City of Red Deer’s COVID-19 emergency call centre will… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

David Marsden: Hospital parking should always be free

If you need to visit a patient at a hospital or other… Continue reading

Woman scared for brother in Calgary long-term care home with COVID-19 deaths

Woman scared for brother in Calgary long-term care home with COVID-19 deaths

Person connected to Red Deer College tests positive for COVID-19

‘I wish this individual well,’ says president

COVID-19 crisis distracting from flood-prone First Nation’s plight: NDP

COVID-19 crisis distracting from flood-prone First Nation’s plight: NDP

Judge sides with woman accused of spying for Russia, orders new hearing

Judge sides with woman accused of spying for Russia, orders new hearing

Ont. court upholds murder conviction in death of girl found in burning suitcase

Ont. court upholds murder conviction in death of girl found in burning suitcase

Most Read