Toronto Maple Leafs Open Extension Talks With Pending UFA

In the midst of his second consecutive impressive season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's seemingly only a matter of when, not if, forward Michael Bunting and the team will agree to terms on a new contract. 

NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun has reported that the team has "touched base" with the pending unrestricted free agent's camp, for a "very, very preliminary chat."

Bunting, who made the All-Rookie Team last season, is completing a 2-year, $1.9M contract with the Leafs this year. Thus far, it's been an unmitigated success. Last year, Bunting finished 3rd in voting for the Calder, after posting 23 goals and 63 points in his first full NHL season. He's following that up this year on roughly the same pace, with 11 goals and 26 points in 37 games. 

Sources say that the close ties between the Toronto native and Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will undoubtedly lead to a long-term team-friendly deal. 

The wheels were already set in motion by the opening night of this season, when Bunting tipped his hand by saying, “I'm a Toronto boy. I love playing for the Maple Leafs. This is my home. I grew up in Scarborough, and, yeah, it's so much fun putting on that sweater every single night. That’s what I will say about it, and I hope everything else figures out itself."

Today, the team took the first small step toward 'figuring everything out'.

Photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports