Phil Kessel wants to be a Maple Leaf for life.
So says his agent, Wade Arnott, who went on Toronto radio Wednesday to say so.
“Phil (Kessel) is still a really young man,” Arnott told the SportsNet Fan590. “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. I think if you asked Phil today, he’d love to finish his career here in Toronto. But it’s still young in his career right now.”
The 25-year-old Kessel, from Madison, Wisc., has led the team in scoring since his arrival from Boston in a controversial trade. He has one year left after this season on his five-year contract that will pay him $5.4 million next year.
In terms of average salary, he would be the third-highest paid Leaf behind Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 million) and Mikhail Grabovski ($5.5 million).
The Leafs cannot open contract talks with Kessel until July 1. There has been some talk the Leafs might be better off trading Kessel.
GM Dave Nonis hasn’t shown his hand one way or another even as the Kessel camp has gone public now with a desire to stay.
“Phil would like nothing more than to help the Maple Leafs make the playoffs. He wants to experience playoff hockey here in Toronto,” said Arnott. “That’s the first step to winning a potential Stanley Cup here in Toronto.