GLENDALE – Competing with and against several highly-touted first- and second-round draft picks, forward Michael Bunting quietly turned some heads at the Coyotes annual Prospect Development Camp earlier this month.
|Michael Bunting signing his entry-level contract. |
"I definitely felt more comfortable at this year's camp and I think it went well," said Bunting, whom the Coyotes selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft with the 117th overall pick. "Coming in this year I knew a lot more people so I felt more at ease and confident. It was a really well structured camp and I thought it allowed us to do more things back to back to back so we weren’t waiting around for the next thing too much. I liked that a lot."
Not long after camp, Bunting and the Coyotes agreed on a three-year entry-level contract.
"Being drafted by the Coyotes, I thought nothing could get better than that," Bunting said. "But signing my first contract with the team was just a dream come true."
Bunting, 19, starred for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League last season. In 57 games, he notched a team-high 37 goals and 37 assists to finish fourth on the team with 74 points. He also was a team-high plus-44.
"I was very happy with my goal production last season," Bunting said. "I feel my strength is my offense so if I continue to work on my defense I feel I'll be a very strong two-way forward."
Bunting is a well-rounded athlete who also enjoys playing basketball and tennis with friends in Scarborough, Ontario, when he's not in hockey mode. He was named the Blessed Cardinal Newman High School's athlete of the year three years in a row.
The Coyotes like his athleticism as well as his intelligence and his compete level.
|Michael Bunting. Photo by Norm Hall. |
"Game in and game out Michael is one of the most consistent players out there," said Tim Bernhardt, the team's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a very smart and instinctive player that is ultra competitive and driven. He's not the biggest or fastest player but he's a very effective player and he has a real knack around the net."
Bunting, who likes to play a feisty game like Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, is expecting to take the next step in his hockey career this season by playing for the Springfield Falcons, Arizona's top affiliate in the American Hockey League.
"I want to be able to play pro hockey next year," Bunting said. "Obviously my goal is to make it to the NHL but if that doesn't happen this year I want to play in the AHL. I've been playing against kids my age so I definitely think I will need at least one year in the AHL to get used to playing against men. I feel if I keep working hard and getting stronger and keep building my strength, by the end of my entry-level contract I should be playing in the NHL."