In the 2021 offseason, Michael Bunting had strong interest but at a limited price tag having only had less than a half-season of NHL playing time under his belt. He signed a two-year deal with Toronto, one that has already become one of the top bargains in the league at a cost of $950K per season. The 27-year-old is a year away from testing the market again where his market will be much stronger. That said, he told reporters including Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun, that his preference is to remain with the Maple Leafs:
I’m a Toronto boy, I love playing for the Maple Leafs. This is my home. It’s so much fun putting on that sweater every single night and that’s what I will say about it.
Bunting finished third in Calder Trophy voting last season after putting up 20 goals and 43 assists in 79 games. A similar showing this year on Toronto’s top line could put him in a position to command $5MM or more in free agency next summer which could make it tricky for the Maple Leafs to keep him around in that situation.
More from Toronto:
- Goaltender Matt Murray is the scheduled starter tonight against his former team in Ottawa but Sports Illustrated’s David Alter reports (Twitter link) that Murray left the game-day skate early with a groin issue. Ilya Samsonov would get the nod if Murray can’t suit up for this game. However, who would back him up would be in question as Erik Kallgren was injured in the AHL last night while Joseph Woll is still working his way back from injury as well. Their only other NHL-contracted goaltender (Dennis Hildeby) is in Sweden so he’s off the table for tonight. That means that if Murray can’t dress (and that hasn’t been ruled out just yet), they’ll either have to convert one of their AHL-contracted goalies (Keith Petruzzelli, Dryden McKay, or Dylan Ferguson) to an NHL deal and use a cap-exempt goalie recall (teams get two of those a season) or use an emergency backup (EBUG). However, an NHL conversion would be tricky with the team at the 50-contract limit.
- While the team sent winger Wayne Simmonds to the minors earlier this week, Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star notes that the veteran is not on Toronto’s AHL roster at this time. He’s currently skating with the injured Maple Leafs in the hopes of getting some clarity on what’s next for him. In the short-term future, it doesn’t appear that seeing action with Marlies is in the plans.