Carolina Hurricanes forward Michael Bunting was a guest on the JD Bunkis Podcast this week and revealed he didn’t have many extension discussions with the Toronto Maple Leafs after their second-round playoff elimination. After recording back-to-back 23-goal seasons in Toronto, Bunting signed a three-year, $13.5MM contract with the Hurricanes when free agency opened July 1. “Once the offseason came along, I didn’t really hear much [from Toronto]… you kind of just figured it wasn’t going to work out,” Bunting said.
Bunting had been a more-than-serviceable top-six piece for Toronto, especially at his previous bargain $950K cap hit. The physical side of his game evidently took too much of a stage when this year’s postseason began, though, earning him a multi-game suspension for a hit on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the First Round. Even when in the lineup, Bunting lost his spot in the top-six to rookie Matthew Knies at times during the postseason, and he recorded just two points in seven playoff games.
Elsewhere in the hockey news cycle today:
- Former Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Butler has announced his retirement from pro hockey, according to an announcement from the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. That’s where the 36-year-old Butler had spent the last two seasons of his career, serving as team captain and recording 54 points in 83 games. An undrafted free agent, Butler appeared in 130 NHL games across five seasons with the Senators, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers. He finished his NHL career with 20 goals and 49 points, including an impressive rookie campaign with Ottawa in 2010-11 when he recorded 21 points in 36 games. He won a Calder Cup with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators that same year.
- The IIHF has released the schedule for the 2024 Men’s World Championship, set to take place in Prague and Ostrava, Czechia. Next year’s edition of the tournament will include Great Britain and Poland after they earned promotion by winning the gold and silver medals in the Division 1A Worlds last year. Hungary and Slovenia finished last in their respective groups in 2023 and will need to work their way back up to the top level during the coming year. The Belarussian and Russian national teams remain suspended for the 2024 tournament.