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.
The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.
— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres