Vanek Watch 2013-14: Phil Kessel Signs An 8 Year, $64 Million Contract

Just like that we're down to one former Gopher who wore #26 that can be a free agent next summer.

Phil Kessel signed an eight year, $64 million contract Tuesday with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The deal, which carries a cap hit of $8 million, is a hefty price for one of the league's elite scorers. Kessel was already making $5.4 million. By taking care of it on the eve of the regular season, Toronto ensures that Kessel, who turns 26 on Wednesday, will remain a Maple Leaf for the long term.

It also means that the alternative to "Vanek Watch 2013-14" is no more.

Even though the NHL season begins as I type this sentence, that doesn't stop the mass interest in "Vanek Watch 2013." The entire year is just a lead-up to the inevitable. Heck, we've already written a couple Vanek Watch articles and are not alone. Apparently it's all that matters. This season? Who cares. Vanek named co-captain today? Probably a reason there are two.  Parise Watch? That is so 2012. It's all about "Parise Watch 2: Twins Bugaloo" now. (I hear those unborn babies already have 6 D1 offers.)

Minnesotan hockey players - even those from Austria or Wisconsin who spent a couple seasons at the University of Minnesota - are like Pokemon. Chuck Fletcher must collect them all.

But that won't include Kessel. At least not until 2022 or whenever Mike Milbury becomes Maple Leafs GM and trades the former Gopher for a bag of Skittles and the above video. That can happen, right? So although there is still an entire season of debating the merits of Minnesota bolstering its leadership by getting a second consecutive Buffalo captain, we won't be able to spend our free time/Wild games debating an alternate.

And there goes the upcoming 15 part series titled "Phil Kessel: An Exercise In Trolling."

Follow First Round Bust on Twitter @FRBHockey. You can also follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate and figure out how seriously to take this article.

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