Insider gives update on Michael Bunting and, thankfully, the news is good

Published April 25, 2022 at 10:34
BY BEN HODGSON
Saturday night after the Leafs 3-2 OT loss to the Panthers, Sheldon Keefe told us at his post game availability that Michael Bunting was "going to miss some time", which was certainly alarming.

The Leafs forward had taken a couple of awkward falls and a puck to the face before leaving the game and not returning. It was and still is unclear exactly what Bunting's injury is, though it appeared to be a leg injury of sorts.

Yesterday, Keefe said that Bunting woke up feeling better than expected, welcome news for the Leafs and their fans. Bunting has made himself into a key part of the Leafs top line, and losing him would be a huge blow to the team heading into the playoffs.

This morning, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on First Up that Bunting is expected to be back in the lineup come Game 1 of the playoffs. This is fantastic news for the Leafs and their fans. The nature of Bunting's injury remains a mystery and Dreger had no information on that and, with the playoffs looming, the Leafs have been tight lipped when it comes to injuries. Auston Matthews is a prime example - we still don't know anything about the mysterious injury that held him out of three games last week.


Missing the last few games of the season may put a damper on Bunting's Calder Trophy hopes, as 1 26 year old rookie the deck was already stacked against him voting wise, which is ridiculous when you think about it. Bunting wasn't a highly touted rookie like Moritz Seider or Trevor Zegras, he's a 9th round OHL pick, a 4th round NHL pick and played over 200 AHL games before landing a lasting NHL gig. That shouldn't be a knock against him in my opinion. How many players become full time NHLers at 26? How many 9th round OHL draftees, who were overlooked in two drafts make the NHL? Bunting's story is one of hard work and dedication. For that he should be commended, not snubbed.

Of course a Calder Trophy means about as much as a Calder Cup to the Leafs at the moment. They've made it quite clear that playoff success is their highest priority. They'll be in tough in the first round, but having Michael Bunting in the lineup will definitely give them a better chance at finally seeing the second round of the playoffs.

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