The Carolina Hurricanes have signed Michael Bunting to a three-year, $13.5 million contract
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
Another one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ unrestricted free agents has found a new home.
According to Kevin Weekes, Michael Bunting has inked a three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. Per Pierre LeBrun, the deal is worth $13.5 million, with a $4.5 million annual salary cap hit.
Bunting was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2014 draft from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. He performed well for the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate but only played 26 games in the NHL over six seasons with the organization. His longest run with the Coyotes came during the shortened 2021 season when he scored 13 points over 21 games.
After that season, Bunting became a Group 6 UFA, in which a player over the age of 25 years old with fewer than 80 NHL games is able to test the open market. Kyle Dubas inked the former Soo Greyhound to a two-year contract worth $950k annually.
Bunting provided his hometown club with tremendous value over those two seasons. The Scarborough native scored 23 goals and 63 points over 79 games in 2021-22 and he scored 23 goals and 49 points over 82 games in 2022-23. He also added two goals and five points over 13 playoff games.
During this year’s first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bunting was suspended for three games for a hit to the head of defenceman Erik Cernak. He was suspended for Games 2-4 and was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and returned to the lineup for Toronto’s series-clinching win in Game 6.
The Leafs spoke to Bunting about a new contract but it would have required him taking a significant hometown discount to stick around in Toronto given the team’s other salary cap commitments. Beyond the upcoming 2023-24 season, general manager Brad Treliving has to be cognizant of the contracts he hands out because Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner Marner, and John Tavares are all set to become free agents over the next two summers.
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