Toronto Maple Leafs Michael Bunting Coming Home

Michael Bunting, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Michael Bunting, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The highly-sought-after Michael Bunting signed with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs this summer.

After an impressive season with the Arizona Coyotes, forward Michael Bunting is returning home to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a dream a lot of players want, but not many achieve.

The Leafs were in desperate need of left-wingers at a bargain price. Luckily for them, Bunting was willing to come home on a two-year deal paying him $950k per season.

With a chance to play with some of the best players in the world, Bunting has a golden opportunity that could end up as a dream come true.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Michael Bunting

Bunting joins six other players that grew up in the Greater Toronto Area. Below, you can see just how excited child Michael is donning the blue leaf. Imagine his reaction if he knew his name would be in the Leafs locker room.

While the story of a hometown kid coming home is heartwarming, there is more. Michael Bunting is a flourishing 25-year-old that endured a long path to the NHL.

It all started when his family couldn’t afford to put him in triple-A hockey and opted to play for his high school team. He joined the Don Mills Flyers AAA team the following year and notched 39 points in 28 games.

He got drafted by Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds general manager, Kyle Dubas. He then played for head coach Sheldon Keefe. Dubas is now the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Keefe is the head coach. It’s crazy how small the world is.

With the Greyhounds, he put together an impressive 42 points in 48 games. That was enough to get drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. He spent one more year in the OHL, notching 74 points in 57 games.

For the next five seasons, he played with Arizona’s minor affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners. He eclipsed 0.5 points per game in all but his rookie season with the team.

A five-game stint with the Coyotes during the ’18-’19 season wasn’t great, as he only notched one point and two penalty minutes. It was his second stint this past season that caught everyone’s eyes.

Bunting accumulated 19 points in 16 games with the Roadrunners. That was enough to earn him 21 NHL games with the Coyotes. In that short span, he had 13 points and an impressive defensive display.

His availability in free agency made him a hot commodity for teams looking for a bargain winger. With the Toronto Maple Leafs needing a winger for cheap, he was the perfect fit.

From playing with the likes of Nick Schmaltz and Connor Garland, Michael Bunting has the opportunity to play alongside John Tavares and Auston Matthews. While injuries will likely have to occur for that to happen, the supporting cast in Toronto is much stronger than it was in Arizona.

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Bunting should emerge as a solid third-line winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a win for him playing for his hometown team. It’s also a win for the Leafs, as they found a bargain third-line winger with upside. Look for number 58 moving up and down the Leafs lineup this upcoming season.