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ex-Maple Leafs’ Michael Bunting Takes His Show on the Road

In the end, the Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t or wouldn’t re-sign Bunting. He’s now in Carolina. Will he be missed by his old team?

Michael Bunting is leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs and taking his aggressive nature and his offensive prowess to the Carolina Hurricanes. By signing Bunting, the Hurricanes made a significant addition to their roster.

The 27-year-old left winger has been a consistent goal scorer for the Maple Leafs by putting up 23 points each of his two full seasons in Toronto. In addition to Bunting’s offensive contributions, he takes with him the reputation of being one of the NHL’s “best” (or is it worst) agitators.

Those two things should make him a valuable asset for the Hurricanes.

Related: Maple Leafs Signing Klingberg Brings Promising Possibilities

Bunting Was Able to Find the Back of the Net Regularly

Bunting was able to find the back of the net over the past two seasons, by putting up almost 50 goals in his two seasons in a Maple Leafs jersey. His impressive play earned him a third-place finish in the Calder Trophy voting for the league’s top rookie in 2022.

It’s pretty clear that the Hurricanes were impressed. He’s now signed for three years at a total of $13.5 million. That’s far more than he would have been able to take home if he stayed there (at home in Toronto). In the end, he had to leave home to find a place that both recognized and rewarded his offensive potential.

Michael Bunting signs with Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Bunting signs with Carolina Hurricanes

That place was Raliegh, North Carolina. For those who don’t know, Raleigh is a vibrant and growing city of about 500,000 people. It’s close to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. It’s far different than Toronto as a place to live, but it’s a great city with loads of Southern Hospitality.

The Hurricanes Are Pleased to Sign Bunting

Don Waddell, the President and General Manager of the Hurricanes, was more than pleased to be able to sign the polarizing Bunting. He emphasized Bunting’s offensive skills as a key reason for the team’s decision to sign him.

Waddell specifically expressed his satisfaction with the signing. He noted that, “Whenever you go out and, especially in a case like this where you spend on a player, you want to make sure you get a player that can contribute offensively. He just had that extra knack, the way he plays, that’s something that we definitely wanted and (coach) Rod (Brind’Amour) wanted. So that was a bonus to be able to get that type of player.”

Bunting Also Brings a Fiesty Presence

In addition to his offensive scoring, Bunting brings a unique element to the Hurricanes’ lineup. He’s a physical player with an agitating way about him. Although he only is about 6-foot and weighs about 190 pounds, Bunting has established himself as one of the league’s top agitators.

This attribute has been lacking on the Hurricanes’ roster in recent years, and Bunting’s addition addresses that gap.

Related: ex-Maple Leafs’ Justin Holl Lands Well with Red Wings

Bunting Also Draws a Ton of Penalties

Bunting also has the ability to draw penalties. Last season, he was second in the NHL in drawn penalties with 43. Only the Edmonton Oilers’ great Connor McDavid drew more. Over the last two seasons, Bunting drew a total of 88 penalties. This skill helps demonstrates that he is effective at creating scoring chances for his team.

It’s also true that Bunting also takes penalties himself, totaling 197 penalty minutes in his 187 career regular season games. Still, his combination of grit and scoring is an asset that the Hurricanes couldn’t pass up.

What Can Hurricanes’ Fans Look Forward to in Bunting?

Hurricanes fans should have fun with Bunting in their lineup. His arrival will surely bring excitement to the team. Fans should expect to see his tenacious play, his offensive contributions, and his ability to stir up the opposition.

What the Hurricanes also hope for is that Bunting’s addition will also help head coach Rod Brind’Amour help his team hem take a significant steps further into the playoffs. Of course, that’s every team’s goal.

Related: Grading the Maple Leafs’ Free Agent Signings: Reaves & Klingberg

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. afp1961

    July 3, 2023 at 7:23 am

    Happy for Bunting, but he had worm out his welcome in Toronto. A fresh start will do both parties good. Overall I like Bertuzzi for 1M more but 2 years less term, all day long….Leafs need more of these 1-2 year term deals to offset the egregious deals Dufas gave out that will continue to haunt for years to come….

  2. Pingback: Treliving Promises More Action to Re-Build the Maple Leafs

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