Arizona Coyotes Michael Bunting Deserves NHL Promotion

Michael Bunting

When forward Michael Bunting was called up from the Arizona Coyotes AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners on March 31st, little did we know how overdue that move was. The 5′-11″, 196 pound native of Scarborough, Ontario has been playing in the AHL since 2016. Prior to this most recent call up he had only participated in five NHL games for the Coyotes, collecting one goal.

Michael Bunting Promotion to the NHL Well Deserved

Bunting had decent stats while in the AHL collecting 74 goals and 106 assists in 260 games. He has an edge to his game as he has sat in the penalty box for 244 minutes. Bunting’s obvious offensive contributions (six goals, one assist) in the nine games since being summoned to the parent club are exceptional. His ability to take care of himself as well as his teammates has been refreshing to see.

Anyone who has the gumption to stand up to a player like Ryan Reaves of the Vegas Golden Knights has to be classified as courageous if not borderline dangerous. Reaves has already sidelined two Coyotes’ players with questionable hits without being assessed a penalty. Bunting would have no fear as he confronted Reaves on a couple of occasions in the last Vegas game on April 11th. With Reaves taking out Jordan Gross with a questionable high hit, Bunting wasn’t too happy. Gross will be out the rest of the season with a concussion and a lower-body injury.

The two teams were fairly continuous after the final horn when groups of players from both teams met at centre ice throwing verbal jabs at each other.

Bunting’s Path to the NHL Was an Arduous One

Being in the AHL for five years can deflate a player’s confidence and belief that he will finally make it to the NHL. Bunting was patient, and it seems now if he continues his level of play that he isn’t going anywhere. His net-front play is especially noticeable as this has been a weakness for the Coyotes’ forwards for some time. Bunting, much like Conor Garland gets to the net and fights his way to get rebounds or deflections. He definitely isn’t afraid to use his physicality to get the job done. It’s certain that head coach Rick Tocchet has noticed that too. Bunting is getting an average of 17:30 minutes of ice time. Any NHL head coach will play the players who are getting the job done; right now that includes Michael Bunting.

Bunting Has Already Collected a Hat Trick

In just his fourth game since being called up, Bunting added a hat trick against the Los Angeles Kings on April 5th. So far his scoring has been very equal with three even-strength goals and three power play goals. There aren’t many young players who get called up to the NHL who can do so well so fast. Now that he has a taste of NHL play, he certainly doesn’t want to be sent back to the AHL. There’s no indication that will happen since his play is exceptional.

Michael Bunting Arrived at the Right Time

With the Coyotes fighting for a playoff spot, the arrival of Bunting is a welcome sight. With just 12 games remaining on the 2020-21 schedule, the team needs every hand on deck to finish strongly. One characteristic of Bunting’s play is his ability to finish strongly. Now opponents need to watch both Garland and Bunting buzz around the offensive zone looking for opportunities to score. While Bunting has a bit more size than Garland their tenacity seems to be on the same level. Bunting has found his niche in the lineup. There’s no way unless he gets hurt, that he will not be in there every game. His fight and determination can only aid the Desert Dogs as they search for how to grab that last playoff spot in the West.

Bunting’s Play May Have Helped Things at the Trade Deadline

When general manager Bill Armstrong decided to not make any trade deadline moves, it may have been due to the potential of Bunting’s play. It’s always easier to bring young players up from the minors than it is to attempt to make trades. That is why the draft is so vital to every organization’s advancement. While it may have taken five years for Bunting to find his NHL game, he has found it and it’s nothing but positives for the Coyotes.

If the team makes the playoffs and they face the Golden Knights, watch the battle that will ensue between Bunting and Reaves.

It should be playoff hockey at its best!

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