March 19 2010 11:20AM
The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they have re-signed alternate captain, US Olympian and silver medallist, and all-around fan favourite Ryan Kesler to a six-year contract extension.
You could hear the cheers and screams of joy all across the Lower Mainland this morning.
Early reports indicate that Kesler's six-year deal is either $29.5m or $30m. That means that his cap hit starting next year is around $5m per year. For the type of player that Kesler has quickly become, and given that he was a Selke candidate last season, this is a great contract for the Canucks. It also assuredly guarantees that Pavol Demitra will not be resigned at the end of this season, which is is no real surprise.
Mike Gillis has to be commended for his long-term signing strategy. For the next two years, the Canucks have Luongo, the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler and Samuelsson under contract. They will also have a new breed of players making their way into the lineup, such as Hodgson, Grabner, Schroeder, Rodin and Connaughton.
This team appears to be set for a while, and Gillis has a solid foundation of winning for a long while. Canucks fans have to be incredibly encouraged by this. This signing is the ultimate sentinel on how Gillis is building this team, and what Canucks fans can expect out of their team for a good number of years.
This signing, along with the emergence of Hansen, Grabner and Hodgson almost guarantees that Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood will not be resigned at season's end, along with Demitra. Starting next season, it's time for the young guns to step in and take the mantle.
Today is a great day for the Canucks, Kesler, and fans of both.