Michael Bunting has won the Leafs’ most valuable real estate – next to Auston Matthews – The Athletic

When the Toronto Raptors welcomed Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in early November, there, seated next to Auston Matthews, in a retro white Raptors hat, was Michael Bunting.

It didn’t take long last fall to see a friendship blossom between the Leafs’ best player and Scarborough’s scrappy new winger. It didn’t take long, either, to see a partnership blossom on the ice as well.

“He and Auston have a great relationship off the ice,” Jason Spezza observed at one point. “I think that helped (Michael) on the ice.”

The Leafs’ most durable forward duo so far this season are Bunting and Matthews. Almost 75% of Bunting’s five-on-five minutes this season have come with Matthews.

The Leafs’ best forward combos

It’s no coincidence either.

Bunting snatched the top left-winger gig from Nick Ritchie for good in November and hasn’t let go. The 26-year-old, who scored his first hat trick as a Leaf over the weekend, earned the Leafs most valuable real estate. He’s adapted perfectly to Matthews, making Ritchie’s misfires (slightly) less damaging and erasing all but missed Leafs fan chatter when it comes to Zach Hyman, who joined the Oilers for a big play in the offseason. .

About Mildred B.

Check Also

Suns’ shorthanded effort in Wednesday’s win showed why they’re title contenders, and the Timberwolves aren’t – Twin Cities

After a performance in which she was disappointed in her effort and energy, a team …