Kessel a hot topic as Leafs return to practice

Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel is congratulated by Team USA teammate Ryan Kesler after scoring a goal...

Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel is congratulated by Team USA teammate Ryan Kesler after scoring a goal against Czech Republic during the third period of their men's quarter-finals ice hockey game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

Phil Kessel leads the Olympics in scoring and has been the hottest player in the National Hockey League since Jan. 1.

Is it time for the Maple Leafs’ publicly reluctant star to be included in the conversation with the best players in the NHL?

“That’s a big statement for anybody to proclaim on any player,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said on Wednesday.

“I think it takes a longer period of time than just five years, six years — that is something more along the lines of eight years, 10 years, and if you are able to maintain that.

“Phil has definitely taken strides here and has grown as a player. He is not a one-dimensional player as people described him previously. He is a guy who still has some things we would like him to stop doing, but he has become more of a two-way player."


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