Sportsnet.ca reported Monday that negotiations on a contract extension between Kessel's agent and the Maple Leafs were taking place ahead of Tuesday's regular-season opener against the Montreal Canadiens.
The 26-year-old forward is now in the final season of a contract that pays him $5.4 million per year. Sportsnet.ca's Chris Johnston reported Monday that Kessel could make as much as $8 million per season for eight years in a new deal.
Kessel led the Maple Leafs with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 48 games last season. He had four goals in seven games in Toronto's first-round loss to the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He's only 17 but he can see the ice so well and he moves the puck and goes to the open ice all the time, so I just think he's a player that is ready to play in the NHL. I'm really looking forward to coaching someone like this.
— U.S. National Junior Team coach Ron Wilson on Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft