Currently, the Leafs are playing well, as they take a four-game winning streak into Carolina Thursday. And Kessel, a sniper who couldn’t find the net through 2013’s first 10 games, now has two goals to go along with his nine assists.
The 25-year-old Wisconsin native has posted three consecutive 30-goal seasons since he joined Toronto.
“Phil is still a really young man. I can tell you he really enjoys living in Toronto and playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This young man lives and breathes hockey. He was very excited to come here four years ago from the Boston Bruins,” Arnott said. “He’s still young man in terms of maturity level. I think he’s misinterpreted in the media to some extent. Phil is very well-liked by his teammates, and he’s becoming more outgoing.”
Following this season, Kessel will have one year remaining on his five-year contract. He is set to make $5.4 million in 2013-14. Arnott confirmed that Kessel’s camp and the Leafs cannot engage in formal contract negotiations until this summer.
Kessel, the third-highest-paid Leaf, currently earns less money than forward Mikhail Grabovski ($5.5 million per) and defenceman Dion Phaneuf (6.5 million per), according to capgeek.com.