NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs' Forward Interested In Long-Term Deal

Michael Bunting is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and he is in line for a big pay increase. He signed a two-year, $950,000 deal to come to the Toronto Maple Leafs before last season and has been very productive alongside the team's top players, mostly Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

The Maple Leafs would like to keep him around as they haven't been able to do with a number of former players enjoying success on other teams. But with the money they allocate to their core four forwards, it's difficult to give the supporting cast larger paydays for their play while also being able to keep decent depth around.

According to Pierre LeBrun, Bunting would be interested in an eight-year deal with the Maple Leafs and the team might look into it to decrease the AAV. But there have been no talks yet.

Seeing how Bunting has put up good numbers while with the Maple Leafs over the past season and a half and works well with the stars, that's a factor working in favour of a deal getting done. Seeing how Bunting is a late bloomer, it's risky investing eight years into a player that may not be able to continue the same level of play, especially since he's already 27 and it would take him to his mid-30s. But to get the cap hit down at the start, it may be worth it for the Maple Leafs to have the best chance of winning right now.

After next season both Matthews and William Nylander's contracts are up and they will need new ones. The season after, Marner and John Tavares' contracts expire. Tavares won't be getting as much on his next deal, but the other three will get more money. That leaves less for Bunting and something Kyle Dubas has to think about when planning to sign Bunting or others.

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