During the offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas signed a number of free agents. Three days ago, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media about a number of topics. During that interview, he noted two of the team’s newcomers who had a chance to make an impact on the success of the Maple Leafs’ season.
These two players are forwards David Kampf and Michael Bunting. In this post, I’ll share some of the points Keefe made about these players.
Related: Two Maple Leafs’ Newcomers Who Are Keys to a Successful Season
Key Player One: David Kampf
One thing fans should know about David Kampf is that he knows his own game. He simply wants to be one of the best shutdown players in the NHL. Since last season, Maple Leafs’ coach Keefe has wanted to create a shutdown third line that he could toss out against the other really strong lines in the NHL.
The fact that Keefe now has Kampf makes him closer to that goal and must make him much more confident that such a line is at least a possibility. Here’s a few points that Keefe made about Kampf:
First, Keefe noted that Kampf has the mindset of a shutdown player. Specifically, Keefed noted that Kampf “knows exactly who he is and what he does. He has done a very good job of it (shutting down good players) around the league.”
Second, Keefe has had a number of NHL coaches reach out to him to share how much respect they have for Kampf’s game and what he does. Those coaches included Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach Jeremy Colliton.
Third, Keefe noted that he was trying to create lines that he could use in all situations, which is why he’s excited to add Kampf to his team. Kampf can, according to Keefe, (a) take faceoffs, (b) play effectively against good players, and (c) remain comfortable in a defensive role.
However, Keefe also noted that Kampf has offensive elements to his game that he could build on and grow in and that the team was going to help him do so. In short, Kampf helps the Maple Leafs create more options about what they can do in the bottom six of the lineup.
Key Player Two: Michael Bunting
No one will probably take Zach Hyman’s place in the Maple Leafs’ lineup; however, Michael Bunting’s game might be about as close as anyone can come. As Keefe noted about Bunting, he’s a player who’s “really hard on the puck but also very good and tenacious around the net. He loves to score goals. From the time I coached him in the Soo and he joined as a late bloomer coming into junior hockey in the OHL, he loved to score and was relentless around the goal.”
Keefe noted that very few of the goals Bunting scored last season in Arizona were “flukey.” Bunting scores the old-fashioned way. He’s a player who “challenges the crease” and gets after the puck in close. Keefe believed that Bunting has developed some great confidence.
Because Bunting wants to be a Maple Leaf and the area is home for him, he came to Toronto early and began to put in a great deal of offseason work with his future teammates working to prepare for the season. That action was noted by his teammates. Bunting’s quickly becoming “one of the guys.”
Offensively, because Bunting shows the ability to play close to the net and finish, he’ll be able to play with some of the Maple Leafs’ better players. That means he’s going to have a chance to become part of the team’s top-six. In fact, Keefe clearly stated that he was “going to give him that opportunity.”
Specifically, Keefe noted that the coaching staff were going to move the lines around during training camp and the preseason, but he noted that “I certainly think with Bunt’s skill set, there is some good potential.”
Related: Maple Leafs’ Early Lines: Bunting with Tavares, Ritchie with Matthews
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