Michael Bunting has been a revelation for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Unfortunately, he looks like he’s about to get kicked out of town afterwards.
Since his current contract pays him (by CapFriendly) just $950,000 this season and next season, you have to imagine he’ll be asking for a sizable raise when he reaches unrestricted free agency.
Right now, his form puts him in contention for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, which in itself is a bit of an anomaly considering he’s a 26-year-old competing against players 20 years for this honor.
As Sportsnet noted, he wouldn’t be an unworthy candidate:
Question: Which NHL rookie has more goals than Michael Bunting?
Answer: Nobody. (5 Maple Leafs takeaways: Michael Bunting builds a sneaky Calder case)
How interesting is his current deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
The simple facts are that Michael Bunting currently has the 10th best deal against the salary cap in the entire league. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the beneficiaries, paying just $29,687 per point.
For comparison, the best non-ELC contract in the league on this metric is Anthony DeAngelo’s contract in Carolina, paying him $26,315 per point.
Finding a comparable deal is the difficult factor here. Prior to this season, his NHL season record was 21. Almost two-thirds of his NHL experience is for the Toronto Maple Leafs this year.
As such, he’ll be pushing to be measured against his 15 goals and 32 points, rather than his NHL past in Arizona.
Who can the Toronto Maple Leafs use as a comparable?
Looking at players with similar points this season, there’s one name that should provide the perfect comparison. That name being Evan Rodrigues of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His 33-point season so far, in addition to having a lot of NHL experience, as well as the fact that he has a one-year love contract and is looking for a raise this summer l were custom made for the Toronto Maple Leafs to put a number on Bunting.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now picks Rodrigues’ number at $9 million over 3 years. Frankly, that could be a fair price for Bunting to pay, as long as he doesn’t win the Calder and leverage it to ask for more money.
The irony of this comparison, of course, is that Evan Rodrigues was for a short time a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, running in the Kasperi Kapanen trade.
For now, we should be enjoying the fruits of having Michael Bunting in our roster and gelling so well with our superstar forwards.
In the long run, he could prove an expensive option to keep and end up leaving town, although he probably wants to stay. It happened with Zach Hyman, no doubt it could happen to the kid from Scarborough too.