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Keller signs lucrative contract with Coyotes

Chesterfield’s Clayton Keller is about to being training camp with the Phoenix Coyotes.

He’ll do confident in knowing he will be with the Coyotes for a long time. Phoenix rewarded the skilled forward with an eight-year contract extension for $57.2 million. It has an average annual salary of $7.15 million.

Chesterfield’s Clayton Keller has signed an eight-year contract extension for $57.2 million. It has an average annual salary of $7.15 million. (Phoenix Coyotes)

Keller is coming off a 47-point campaign in 2018-19.

Slated to become a restricted free agent next year, Keller will now remain in the desert through the 2027-28 season.

Keller set a franchise rookie record with a 10-game points streak and becoming a finalist for the Calder Trophy after scoring 23 goals with 42 assists in 2017-18.

The 21-year-old Keller became the youngest player in franchise history to play in the All-Star game last season. He led the Coyotes with 14 goals and 33 assists in 82 games.

Keller also 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. He has 37 goals and 77 assists in 167 career games.

“This is a truly special day for my family and I,” Keller said in a news conference after signing his contract. “I love everything about being a Coyote. My teammates are great. We have a great coaching staff. Everything about this organization is on the right track and I know we have an opportunity to do some special things here for a long time. Arizona is where I want to be and I’m proud to commit to the Coyotes long term.”

The Coyotes are glad to have him.

“Clayton is elite in every sense of the word,” Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka said after the deal was announced. “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.”

Keller was tabbed as a star in the making after the Coyotes selected him with the seventh overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft.

“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.

“I drafted Clayton Keller seventh overall and some questioned that at the time as well. I think that will be proven to be a good decision and I feel the same about this decision.”

Keller will play out the final year of his entry-level contract this season and would have required a new deal next summer.

The Coyotes are undoubtedly banking on Keller to lead them to their first playoff berth since 2012. Keller has made it clear he wants to play in Arizona for a long time.

Keller is coming off a down season, his second full year in the league. Despite a very slight uptick in ice time, he scored about 40 percent fewer goals and 28 percent fewer points, all while taking fewer shots in the same number of games. He had less of an impact on the power play but saw his 5-on-5 production in particular plummet.

“Last season is over with,” Keller said. “This is a new start. 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 Phoenix Coyotes’ Clayton Keller (9) skates against Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman (11) during the second period at Gila River Arena last season in Glendale, Ariz. (Phoenix Coyotes)
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