Matt Frattin is just three months and one day younger than Phil Kessel.

“He’s also played like five years,” said the 23-year-old Frattin of Kessel’s NHL experience. “That’s why I asked him the other day and he said he’d already played five and was on his sixth, I was like ‘You’re a year older than me and you already played that many’. I couldn’t believe it.”

Despite the very minor gap in age, Frattin – like many Leafs early this season – is following the lead of the Leafs 24-year-old sniper. Not only is Kessel producing offence in droves – five goals and eight points in three games – but he’s playing with a relatively newfound commitment and dedication in all three zones – the 200-foot player as Brian Burke likes to describe it. Winning battles along the boards, chipping pucks out in the defensive zone, back-checking with vigour, Kessel is dedicating himself to the finer elements of the game.

Teammates have noticed the evolution and are rallying around the rather unlikely leader.