Michael Bunting, a 25-year-old with only 26 prior regular season games of NHL experience, agreed to a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs, last season.
Bunting's play has led him to be regarded as the next "Zach Hyman" in Toronto. The Toronto native fit right in, playing for his hometown team. Bunting played the majority of the season on the first line, alongside Leafs superstar Auston Matthews. Where the two instantly connected and have been playing together ever since.
The Torontonian brought physicality along with a strong defensive and offensive game to the Leafs lineup. Bunting is a player that loves the physical side of the game while still managing to rack up points. Bunting managed to throw out 85 hits last season.
The 25-year-old was able to tally up 23 goals and 40 assists in 79 games last season. He was also second on the team in penalties with 80 minutes.
After the success last year, Bunting will be a valuable asset within the Leafs' lineup this upcoming season. It is likely he will stay on a line with Auston Matthews, due to prior chemistry.
The Leafs winger will look to earn his bag this season, as he enters the 2022-23 campaign in the final year of his two-year contract.
The winger currently has a cap hit of $950,000 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent by the end of the season. Bunting put up similar numbers to Zach Hyman's final season in Toronto, prior to his $5,500,000 contract. If Bunting were to ask for a similar range to Hyman, it is likely the Leafs would let the winger walk during the offseason.
In order to secure his future this offseason, Bunting will look to repeat the success he had last year.