Keller signs eight-year contract extension with Coyotes
Forward could have become restricted free agent after this seasonNHL.com @NHLdotcom
Clayton Keller signed an eight-year contract extension with the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Financial terms were not released by the Coyotes.
"I just love the group of guys we have here in Arizona and it was a priority of mine to be here for a long time," said the 21-year-old forward, who led the Coyotes with 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) in 82 games last season. "I love playing here, I love the fans, and I love the direction that we're going."
Keller could have become a restricted free agent July 1, 2020, but said he's happy to have his future set.
"My agent and (Coyotes general manager) John [Chayka], they were able to get something that caught my eye," Keller said. "I'd rather get it done now than wait. So I think it's definitely something that I was happy about. Like I said, really looking forward to the season and it's something I don't have to worry about."
Video: Clayton Keller inks eight-year extension with Coyotes
The Coyotes (39-35-8) finished four points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference last season. They haven't been to the postseason since 2012, but they acquired forward Phil Kessel in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29 and forward Carl Soderberg in a trade from the Avalanche on June 25.
"I think with a healthy team we're a really tough team to beat and I think we're going to play a fast style of game," Keller said. "And I couldn't be more excited to get Phil and Soderberg and guys who are really going to help out our team and help us be more successful this year."
Selected by Arizona with the No. 7 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Keller has 114 points (37 goals, 77 assists) in 167 games. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the top rookie in the NHL, after he led the Coyotes with 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists) in 82 games in 2017-18.
"Clayton is elite in every sense of the word," Chayka said. "He is not only an all-star and one of the premiere offensive playmakers in the League, but he is equally special as a person with his drive and determination to be great. We are thankful to Clayton for believing in our future and look forward to him playing a vital role on this team for many years to come."
Center Derek Stepan said Thursday at the NHL Player Media Tour in Chicago that the extension should help Keller return to the form he showed as a rookie.
"I think that it allows a player to go into a situation where he's not under pressure, he understands that the organization has put a lot of faith in him," Stepan said. "I think [Keller] is a motivated player as it is because he feels that maybe he had a down year last year. What a good way to start the new season with a new contract; you take a little pressure off yourself and you can go out and compete. He can do things the way he knows how to do them, like he did it his first year."
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers and senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report