Last summer, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a low-risk flier on a 25-year-old winger with minimal NHL experience but had produced a decent amount and had a history of scoring at the AHL level.
Of course, that player was Michael Bunting, who scored 23 goals and 63 points in 79 games with the Maple Leafs in 2021-22 en route to a Calder Trophy nomination. Bunting’s success this year is another reminder of the talent waiting to be discovered at the AHL level, having been buried in the Arizona Coyotes minor league system despite strong results for multiple seasons.
It wasn’t until late in the 2020-21 season when Bunting was given a shot in the Coyotes lineup, and he made good on the opportunity. His results, 10 goals and 13 points in 21 games, were largely driven by a high shooting percentage, but the signs were there of a player that could contribute to an NHL lineup.
So that brings the inevitable question, who is the next Michael Bunting?
Trying to find an exact comparable is basically impossible. Bunting’s situation last summer was a perfect storm. He had a history of good results at the AHL level, was given a chance at the NHL level late in the year and produced in tho …
Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation