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Daily Faceoff ranks Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting as top 2023 UFA

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
Michael Bunting has been named the top of his class in the first set of 2023 free agent rankings done by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
The list dropped Wednesday and saw Bunting sit atop it. The 27-year-old will hit free agency coming off a two-year deal that paid him an AAV of just $950,000. Surely, he’s due for a significant raise after providing tremendous value on his contract.
In the 2021-22 season he was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team scoring 23 goals and 63 points in 79 games played. Finishing third in the Calder Trophy voting last year, he’s returned with another strong campaign.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, Bunting has found the back of the net 21 times while adding another 25 assists for 46 points in 73 games.
Here’s some of what Seravalli wrote about the class:
There is no sugarcoating this summer’s NHL free agent crop. There will be no hyperbole to drive ratings, or talk about a three-headed monster stalking the top of the list like we’ve had in years past. There will certainly be no Brinks trucks backing up to the house of one newly wealthy individual with $75 or $80 million inside.
Yes, 2023 will likely go down as one of the weakest overall free agent classes in more than a decade. But this class graduates to free agency at a fascinating juncture as the NHL’s salary cap could be increasing in a meaningful way for the first time since 2019.
Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. Which is why the top available free agent is very much a debate. We’ve ranked Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting in the No. 1 spot because he’s strung together two very productive seasons – totaling 44 goals and 109 points – on his first one-way NHL contract. There will be no shortage of teams interested after witnessing the success Zach Hyman has achieved in Edmonton upon departing Toronto.
Multiple other Leafs free agents made the list: Ryan O’Reilly (4th), Alex Kerfoot (26th), David Kampf (29th), Justin Holl (35th), Luke Schenn (36th), and Erik Gustafsson (44th).

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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