P.A. Parenteau is having the time of his life.
"It's the best I've felt in the last three years," Parenteau said, a day after scoring his 15th goal of the season. He's healthy, and he's got head coach Mike Babcock in his corner, something he cites as making a "huge difference."
Signed to a one-year, $1.5-million contract, Parenteau's exceeded expectations with respect to production, and should be on the move to a contender come the Feb. 29 trade deadline. But that doesn't mean his career as a Maple Leaf is over.
"Absolutely," Parenteau said after he was asked if he'd consider coming back to the club in the summer as a free agent. "That's something I would definitely consider with the way they've treated me here and the way things went."
The Maple Leafs traded forward Daniel Winnik at last year's trade deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins, only to sign him in free agency, so this is a road Toronto's been down before. And it's no secret the club is looking to deal its expiring contracts, of which Parenteau's is probably the most sought after.
With 30 points and power-play experience, Parenteau should be able to net Toronto a second-round draft pick.
"I know (being traded) is a possibility; I'm well aware of that and so is my family. I've said it - I love it (in Toronto), I'd love to stay, but I know how it works."
After not getting along with head coach Michel Therrien in Montreal, Parenteau's had the opposite experience in Toronto.
"It's a little bit of everything," he said when talking about his bounce-back season. "You know when your coach wants you out there as a player, and that's the way I'm feeling this year. Even before we had all of those injuries, I felt like I was a big part of the team. It's fun, it's fun that way."
You see, Toronto? Rebuilds aren't all bad.