Why Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas are not surprised by Michael Bunting's rise to stardom

Published April 23, 2022 at 4:02
BY BEN HODGSON
From an outsider's perspective, Michael Bunting's improbable rookie season was a complete surprise. The Scarborough native had managed to score 10 goals in his 21 games with the Arizona Coyotes the year before, sure, but few saw him as a member of one of, if not the best line in the NHL this season. When Kyle Dubas signed Bunting to a 2-year, $1.9M contract in the off-season, many fans had no idea who this guy was, or why Dubas had given a relatively unproven player a 2-year deal. The truth is, this was a signing that was 10 years in the making.

As General Manager of the Soo Greyhounds, Dubas took a flyer on Bunting in the 9th round of the 2013 OHL draft, 2 years after Bunting's first eligibility. At the time he was playing in AAA with the Don Mills Flyers, where Dubas had first scouted him, but before that he had never played above AA hockey. Bunting was invited to training camp by Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe and never looked back.


Bunting played 2 years with the Greyhounds, racking up 116 points in 105 games, not too shabby for a 9th round pick. He was then drafted by the Arizona Coyotes, and the trio went their separate ways, Bunting to the Tuscon Roadrunners, where he played 260 games and Dubas, and eventually Sheldon Keefe, ended up with the Toronto Marlies, where they won a Calder Cup together.


It took Dubas a season and a half to bring Keefe up to the big league team after taking over as Leafs GM, and only 2 more seasons to fully reunite the Greyhounds trio. Now, as then, Bunting has come in under the radar and played at a level nobody else saw coming. For Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe however, they've had their eyes on the 26-year-old for 10 years. They knew exactly what they were getting when they brought him in.

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