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Former Leaf reflects on his time in Toronto, excited to begin next chapter in Carolina

Published August 16, 2023 at 8:40 PM
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

In the summer of 2021, the Leafs were, as they still are today, in a cap crunch and had to rely on then GM Kyle Dubas' bargain finds to fill out their roster. Dubas decided to take a chance on a former Soo Greyhound in Michael Bunting, who had just finished a 21-game stint with the Arizona Coyotes where he reigistered 10 goals and 13 points. The Leafs signed Bunting to a 2-year deal that saw him earn $950K per season which ended up being a bargain of a deal for the Leafs. Yesterday, Bunting was on the JD Bunkis podcast and revealed why he chose to sign in Toronto.

"It came down to a decision of taking the money and going somewhere else or coming home to Toronto. I knew I wasn't going to make as much here. But I think when that when that decision came up, it was kind of a no-brainer to come home and experience that. I was familiar with Kyle (Dubas) and I was familiar with Sheldon (Keefe) too. And obviously, you know, it worked out and I had a great two years here. I built chemistry with Auston and Mitch in that first year, and I kind of just ran with it and each game more confidence would build and build and you kind of feel like you belong in the NHL, and you feel like you can keep up with everybody."

It was a pair of great years for Bunting who scored 23 goals each year and collected a total of 112 points with the Leafs before departing for Carolina this off-season.

"I really enjoyed my time in Toronto," said Bunting. "It's home here, I grew up a Leafs fan, so I will always cherish that. But I'm really excited to start my next chapter with Carolina."


Bunting ended his time in Toronto by getting suspended in round 1 against Tampa following a high hit on Tampa blueliner Erik Cernak and registering just 2 points in 7 playoff games. He was a fan favourite in Toronto during his two years because of his willingness to get involved in scrums and always trying to get under the opponent's skin. Unfortunately, he was also seen as a bit of an embellishment artist by the end of his tenure by the refs who seemed to let him take more punishment while calling him immediately. Bunting will surely receive a warm welcome when he returns to Toronto with the Hurricanes, but that will have to wait as the Canes don't visit Toronto until March.

Quotes drawn from Sportsnet.ca
POLL
August 16   |   224 answers
Former Leaf reflects on his time in Toronto, excited to begin next chapter in Carolina

How many goals will Michael Bunting score this season?

15 or less6729.9 %
16-208939.7 %
21-255122.8 %
26-30177.6 %
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