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Kyle Turris’s contract demands and paying for potentialAfter being drafted third overall in 2007, Kyle Turris(notes) has tallied more points in the AHL (71 in 86 games) than he has in the NHL (46 in 131). At 22 years old, he remains one of the Phoenix Coyotes' franchise cornerstones, but he's yet to blossom like some of the other players in his draft class.

He remains unsigned as a restricted free agent, and if ESPN columnist Scott Burnside's numbers are accurate there's a very good reason for that:

League sources told ESPN.com that Turris is looking for a three-year deal worth an average of slightly more than $4 million annually or a two-year deal worth slightly more than $3 million. Those numbers would put Turris in the same high-rent district as James van Riemsdyk(notes), who recently signed a six-year extension with the Philadelphia Flyers worth an average of $4.25 million. Van Riemsdyk is another player from that talent-rich 2007 draft class; he was the second overall pick behind No. 1 selection Patrick Kane(notes) of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Were Turris to receive an annual salary north of $4 million, he'd be the third-highest paid forward on the Coyotes behind Shane Doan(notes) and Daymond Langkow(notes) — two players that have accomplished slightly more than Kyle Turris in their careers.

That said: Doan had 40 points in 170 games by the time he was 22, and he eventually turned into one of the better power forwards in the NHL.

No matter how long the contract with Turris is, the Coyotes are making a wager rather than rewarding performance. It's a that situation speaks directly to what Lambert argued in his column about van Riemsdyk:

Let's be perfectly clear here: van Riemsdyk is a good NHL player who will, one day, likely become a very good or even great one. Of this there can be little doubt. But why would Philadelphia pay him like one now?

And the better question is, why do people think it's reasonable?  Reports from beat writers, bloggers and fans alike all agreed this was at the very least a relatively reasonable deal. Some called his new cap number "low." In what universe is $4.25 million a year a "low" cap hit for a 40-point scorer?

Thing is, the Flyers don't see him as a 40-point scorer — they see him as a top-line sniper, like the Coyotes see Turris as a No. 1 pivot. GM Paul Holmgren's gamble is that $4.25 million will seem like a bargain by Year 6 of the contract. GM Don Maloney faces the same conundrum with Year 3 of Turris's proposed deal.

Do you pay for the present or the future?

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