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Some guys have nothing but luck, and then there is Michael Bunting, who has had a ton of adversity in his young career, but keeps overcoming it. Passed over twice in the OHL draft, Bunting led the Don Mills Flyers to the 2013 OHA Championship with 28 goals in 28 games before he was finally selected in the 9th round by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last year. He would come into the Sault and this player who was a relative unknown before the season was turning heads with his was play and in the midst of a very impressive rookie season for the Greyhounds when an MCL injury derailed him and cost him 20 games. He’d come back before the end of the season, and would finish the year with 15 goals and 42 points in 48 games. In the playoffs Bunting would continue to impress picking up 5 goals in 9 games for the Greyhounds. He may have been overlooked in a pair of OHL drafts, but I fully expect the name of Michael Bunting to be called in this June’s NHL draft.
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born Sep 17 1995 — Toronto, ON
Height 6.00 — Weight 178 [183 cm/81 kg]
Michael Bunting is one of those players who rarely seems to wow you, but really does everything well. He is an extremely hard worker who never stops moving his feet and shows grit and tenacity at both ends of the ice. Willing to use his body and play physical, he will be even better when he adds some more muscle to his frame. While the stats don’t show it, I see Bunting as more of a goal scorer than a playmaker. He has a very, very good release on a strong and accurate wrist shot. He is also unafraid to get to the front of the net and works at banging in rebounds and scoring from the dirty areas of the ice. He doesn’t throw big hits, but is willing to get involved in battles for the puck anywhere on the ice. With the puck on his stick, he’s also able to get past defenders and go to the net. That said he also has decent vision and passing skill. His positional play, anticipation and just general hockey IQ are excellent, as he almost always makes the right play with the puck, and can find the openings in the defence.
In terms of skating, Bunting can improve his first step and acceleration, but when he gets up to speed does have decent top end speed. He is also agile, able to be shifty on his skates to elude defenders off the rush. He could stand to be stronger on the puck and improve his balance, though again this is something that should come with more muscle.
A committed back checker, Bunting is the type of player who coaches will love for his well-rounded two way game. He supports defenders with very good back pressure and gap control. He reads plays well, and again shows the impressive hockey IQ leading to turnovers, and quick transitions. Overall, Bunting showed commitment being
willing to block shots, and do whatever it takes to win. Its rare to see a rookie in the OHL with such a well-rounded game, but Bunting brings that.
Michael Bunting’s style is reminiscent of Louis Eriksson of the Boston Bruins. This isn’t a talent comparison but one based on style. He could potentially be a second line forward in the NHL, though he’s got the type of defensive game and work ethic that he could still succeed on the bottom lines even if he falls short of that ceiling.
Below is a video the Greyhounds produced after drafting Bunting.
Come back tomorrow to check out my next prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
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