New Leafs GM has an appreciation for feisty players; does that mean an overpay to keep one UFA?

Ryan Smitheram
June 1, 2023  (3:52 PM)

Two seasons ago, Kyle Dubas took a chance on Michael Bunting and signed him to a 2-year deal worth $950K per season. Bunting is scheduled to now be a UFA in a month and with the projected asking price, everyone had assumed he would become one of the latest cap casualties in Toronto.

The question needs fo be asked - now that Brad Treliving is the GM of the Leafs, could Bunting have new life in Toronto? Given that Treliving has a soft spot for players like Bunting, who toe the line and sometimes cross it, we could very well see Bunting in the blue and white again next season and for seasons to come. Bunting followed up his "rookie" campaign of 23 goals and 63 points with another 23 goals this past season and 49 points. He also earned a 3-game suspension in round one against Tampa for an illegal check to the head on Erik Cernak.
Treliving had players like Milan Lucic, Nazem Kadri, Nikita Zadorov, Blake Coleman, Dillon Dube, Trevor Lewis and Nick Ritchie under his employ in Calgary. That's a lot of players who won't hesitate to punch you in the face and who will wear you down in the corners. He likes guys who will mix it up and leave it all out on the ice.
Unless Bunting is willing to take a "hometown" discount and/or Treliving decides to move on from other players to open up some cap space, he could yet test free agency. Evolving Hockey has a projected contract for Bunting that will most likely be 4 years with a cap hit of just over $5M per season. To me, that's a little rich for a 27-year-old that has just 2 full seasons under his belt, but we all know someone will pay it. Bunting is just one of many free agents that Treliving has to have conversations with along with the ones awaiting Auston Matthews and William Nylander about potential extensions. He has his work cut out for him over the next month and it will be a very eventful June for fans and the organization.
1 JUIN   |   456 ANSWERS
New Leafs GM has an appreciation for feisty players; does that mean an overpay to keep one UFA?

Will Bunting return to the Leafs next season now that Brad Treliving is at the helm in Toronto?

Yes16636.4 %
No29063.6 %
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