As Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis wrapped up his season-ending news conference, there was only one player on the roster who received his unwavering support: Phil Kessel. When he mentioned the names of others — such as pending unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak and No. 1 goalie James Reimer — there was praise followed by a quick reminder that changes are in the offing. The issue with Kessel is come July the Leafs will be able to offer their top forward a contract extension. He was asked if he would. “I think this is the best stretch of hockey Phil Kessel has ever played,” said Nonis. “He’s — in my mind — one of the top players in the league. Would we look to extend Phil? Again, he has a year left on his contract, there is no urgency in getting him signed to an extension. “Phil Kessel is going to be a good player in this league for a long time. If there is a deal that makes sense for both of us, then no question we’d look to bring him back for an extended period of time.” As for Kessel’s centre and best friend — Bozak — Nonis was a tad less effusive in his praise. Bozak tore his oblique muscle at the end of the season and ripped his triceps muscle during a faceoff in Game 5 and was missing for Games 6 and 7. He said he wants to return to Toronto. What does Nonis think? “If there is a contract that makes sense for us and makes sense for Tyler, we’ll sign him,” said Nonis. “It’s not a situation where we have to sign Tyler Bozak. There are numbers that make sense for the team and there are numbers that make sense for Bozak. I believe if the player wants to stay with the team, you find a way to make it happen.” It was at last year’s season-ending news conference that then-GM Brian Burke praised James Reimer as a true No. 1 goalie. “At this point, I’d say he’ll be back as our No. 1,” Nonis said of Reimer. “He did a very good job for us. His mental makeup, mental strength is something people questioned last year. It was clear his issues a year ago were based upon his health.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Changes are in the offing, GM Dave Nonis says
Toronto Star | May 17