Under contract through the 2016-17 season, Milan Michalek knows there is the potential for him to take on more of a leadership role with the Maple Leafs when the puck drops next October.

"I would like that," said Michalek, who will turn 32 next December. "I like the young guys here, they are really talented and a lot of fun. I'm not really looking ahead, but I hope I can be here next year."

The Leafs certainly wouldn't mind if Michalek turns it up next season. With a $4-million salary cap hit, management would like some return on the investment, and if Michalek performs well, he would become an asset at the trade deadline.

"He has good hockey sense," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "We have to get him back skating and moving and getting in shape and getting his confidence back. He is a big guy, looks like he can make a play and he has had success in the league."