A Deeper Look at Clayton Keller’s new eight year extension with Arizona Coyotes

Clayton Keller enjoyed such a good rookie year and then had a complete opposite second year. The Arizona Coyotes bank on the fact that he will have more years like the former.

That came to fruition on Wednesday as Clayton Keller signed an eight-year, $57.2 million pact to stay in the Phoenix area. Let’s dig a little deeper into the Coyotes’ 2017 first-round pick.

What Clayton Keller means to the Arizona Coyotes

Again, Keller was the leader in points last season for Arizona with just 47. That is how woeful the offense was for the Coyotes. Not a single player topped 20 goals and for most of the year, the power play was dormant. That included Keller, who had just one power-play goal. However, he assisted on 18 man-advantage tallies.

Clayton Keller fired 200 shots on net so his output was about the same as the rookie season. His shooting percentage dropped to 7% from 10.8%. That is a considerable drop from 23 to 14 goals – especially on a team that sorely needed an offensive punch.

Now, the contract is signed and sealed. The first question asked has to be is can Keller bounce back? Phil Kessel was acquired in the offseason from the Pittsburgh Penguins. At some point, these two players will see ice time together. Whether that is at even-strength or on the man advantage is a valid question.

Keller upgrades an offense when he has players who can get him in offensive positions to shoot or pass. He is dangerous once the forward gets into the zone. Kessel aids the power-play and may boost Clayton Keller’s point potential in that phase.

This helps solidify some of the offense. There is one caveat. This contract kicks in for the 2020-21 season.

Here is a PuckPedia snapshot on Clayton Keller.

The #Coyotes sign 21 y/o C Clayton Keller to 8 year $7.15M Cap Hit extension per @craigsmorgan & @FriedgeHNIC. Was in final year of Entry Level; set to be RFA after year.

Extension covers 4 UFA years.

Rep’d by Scott Bartlett @scgscott of SCG. https://t.co/hdjGJP0vEz

— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) September 4, 2019

Keller’s point production dipped to 1.24 points per 60 and lower expected goals for.

Next, there is the numerology.

The numerology of Clayton Keller

Fortunately, Keller expects to just put the 2018-19 season behind him. However, the idea here is to take a look at it anyway. Featuring this combined with rookie year data paints a different picture.

Possession metrics look slightly positive relative to the team for Keller. It is around a +1% difference for the forward. How much of that is driven by teammates? That has been a question which has dogged Clayton Keller for awhile.

Consequently, many point to Keller’s lower than expected rates from last year and with some concern. Expected goals for are down and allowed goals are up.

Here is a standardized RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey.

Alas, easier minutes were the hand that Clayton Keller was given as well. His ice time was right around 18 minutes a night. While the power-play numbers showed improvement from his rookie year, the defense was honestly abysmal too often.

Yes, these numbers are a bit sobering when considering Keller just received an eight-year extension. However, if the forward is producing 65-70+ points, these points become more nitpicking than anything.

Again, Keller plays like a play driver but he is not. His game mirrors that of someone who can make good decisions once he is given the puck in an already advantageous position. The former must be improved on by the forward and he knows that.

The details of the Clayton Keller deal

The final four years of the Keller contract involve two years of the no-trade clause. This is followed by two years of a no-movement clause. Debate rages on as to how much of an overpay the forward is. Keller’s deal takes up four UFA years as well. Lastly, it does set the market for a player like Nico Hischier, for example.

Some final words on Clayton Keller

Finally, John Chayka locks up his core. That can never be disputed. Did Keller deserve an eight-year extension at this AAV? This remains to be seen. Keller carries enough potential to overcome most of his deficiencies. If Arizona sees more of Year 1 throughout this contract than Year 2, Arizona gambled masterfully.