P.A. Parenteau in discussions with Maple Leafs on new deal

George Stroumboulopoulos and Elliotte Friedman discuss the latest news around the hockey world, including the Avalanche and Coyotes' search for defencemen, and Dale Hunter's current status.

As the conversation surrounding the 2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs centres on teenage prospects and draft picks, what of the veterans?

The club’s top goal-scorer last season, P.A. Parenteau, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and he may be the only impending UFA Toronto seriously considers re-signing.

Parenteau, however, paced all Leafs with 20 goals, finished second to Nazem Kadri in points with 41, and skated more than 16 minutes a night.

So despite an unsuccessful effort to trade the 33-year-old forward at the deadline, Toronto is at least open to bringing Parenteau back next season.

“There have been a couple of discussions. Very preliminary. I would say every possibility is on the table,” Partenteau’s agent, Allan Walsh, told Sportsnet. “They have not closed the door to him coming back, but I don’t think it’s a decision that’s going to be made now. I think it’s a decision that’s going to be made just before we get to July 1.”

Mark Arcobello has already taken a job with SC Bern of the Swiss League. And one-year gambles on veteran wings Michael Grabner (nine goals) and Brad Boyes (eight goals) yielded such low production in 2015-16, the likelihood of them re-signing appears slim.

The Leafs lineup next fall will be young, no doubt — hello, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews — but Lou Lamoriello & Co. know a veteran mix is necessary.

Parenteau was recruited by head coach Mike Babcock last June after being bought out by the Montreal Canadiens.

Last summer the Leafs were buying low. Certainly Parenteau will be seeking a contract more substantial than the $1.5-million, one-year deal he inked in 2015.

“Let’s be very clear on this point: P.A. Parenteau loved playing in Toronto. He loved playing for Mike Babcock. He believes in the direction of the organization and where it’s going,” Walsh said. “The only thing he didn’t like was not making the playoffs, and he would love to come back.”

So, is it safe to say he wants a multi-year contract?

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to answer that question,” Walsh said. “We’ll come to a point where if there is a mutual interest, hopefully both sides can work something out.”

One year ago Parenteau needed to prove himself. Due to a weak Toronto roster, he was given the top-six role and power play time he craved, re-joining the 20-goal club for the first time in five years.

“It was a good fit, and everyone saw him as an honest player,” Walsh said. “He worked hard and he enjoyed being there.”

There’s a chance he might stay.

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