At #15, we arrive at the first player in our 21 under 21 series likely to make it all the way to the Arizona Coyotes at some point this season. He is Michael Bunting, a smaller left wing who has a Brad Marchand-like edge to his game. Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Bunting has the potential to be a call-up from the AHL this season.
#15 - Michael Bunting - Left Wing - Springfield Falcons - 117th overall pick, 2014 NHL Draft
Highest Rank: 5
Lowest Rank: 23
Michael Bunting was drafted out of a very good Sault St. Marie Greyhounds team. Having a birthday just after the deadline for the NHL Entry Draft, he was drafted almost a year later than the rest of his draft class. The extra time did pay off as he had a great run with the Greyhounds after his draft year, with a 37 goal, 37 assist campaign.
Bunting spent time in the AHL and ECHL last season with the Springfield Falcons (now Tucson Roadrunners) and the Rapid City Rush. He played 63 games with the Falcons and had 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points.
Bunting is a versatile wing who can play up and down the lineup, and could be a solid future 3rd liner. Tucson this year is a given this season; but it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the fold. He is a pesky player who is a perpetual thorn in his opponents' side.
A teammate with exceptional scoring ability like Conor Garland could form a potent one-two combination, if they were also paired with the right center. During development camp they flanked Clayton Keller, and seemed to have a significant amount of chemistry.
Hopefully we’ll see Bunting in the NHL soon, and if we do he could be an impact player that we didn’t see coming.
Editor's Note: Some of our panelists ranked players significantly higher or lower than the final consensus ranking. On occasion, we will provide their rationale for their different opinion.
Dissenting Opinion: Taylor Clark - Ranked #5
Bunting displays qualities that could easily have put him higher on this list. Personally I had him ranked at #5 overall for two reasons: his versatility and his presence.
At development camp he showed an ease and a confidence that only a few players, namely Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome, displayed during their time on the ice. It wasn't unfounded either. Bunting was dominant in the Red vs White scrimmage the last day of camp and notched one goal and one assist (a tipped in goal).
He can play more than one style of game. He can be fast and agile, with a quick, sharp shot, when he needs to be, or he can play a hard physical style game, never shying from battles along the boards or retrieving a puck from the corner.
Standing at 6-feet, 198 pounds, he knows how to use his size to his advantage, and sometimes that advantage involves a heavy presence on the other team that can be irritating at best. While Bunting has already spent some time in the AHL it wouldn't be surprising to see him spend some time in the AHL in Tucson before getting a call up like Laurent Dauphin experienced last season.