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Wednesday FTB: More Bunting Please?

Bunting did a good job reminding us last night of why he should be in a Leafs’ uniform for years to come

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning!

The Leafs lost their first game of 2023 last night to the Blues, 6-5 in Overtime. It was a trap game that the Leafs lost. It was a much less fun game than a 10-goal game should rightfully be. The Leafs haven’t beaten the Blues in Toronto since 2016. What else is new? Elseldo’s got the recap for you here:

Although the game was pretty lacklustre from the Leafs, a few players’ efforts did stand out — in particular Michael Bunting’s two goal night. After a rough start to the season, Bunting’s started to come into form and live up to his “wait, he’s elligible for the Calder?” buzz from last season. His play of late is good news for him in his extension talks, which have reportedly begun.

Katya wrote a thorough article earlier this week on potential extensions for current Leafs and preempted this news by predicting that Bunting was the most likely to get signed to an extension before the end of the season. Check out that article here:

There’s been a lot of talk about Leafs’ trade deadline targets lately. A lot of hockey media has been clamouring on the Leafs’ desire for a defenceman this season, but recently there’s been more talk about trade targets both at wing and defence. Who would you pick from the list? [Daily Faceoff]

In news from around the NHL, Jakub Vrana has been put on waivers by Detroit. Vrana has been playing for Detroit’s AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids, on a conditioning stint, and putting him on waivers is effectively a way to extend that stint. Vrana has spent most of this year in the NHL’s Player Assistance Program, and his stint in Grand Rapids seems to be part of his plan to get back to playing in the NHL. Many people think that waivers is a sign Detroit is giving up on him, but he’s been a fantastic player thus far in his career — second only to Matthews in 5v5 goals per 60 minutes since 2020-2021. Personally, I don’t feel as though Detroit would be giving up on him, but that requires quite a bit of trust or coordination with other teams to extend his time in the AHL this way, so who knows.

The World Juniors are continuing today as Canada takes on the United States and Sweden takes on Czechia in the semifinals. The IIHF president, Luc Tardif, recently sat down with The Hockey News to discuss this world juniors tournament along with a few other topics, which felt to me like a good temperature-gauge of the IIHF’s response to a variety of things in hockey recently.

And, finally, back to Leafs’ news (more or less) Tessa Virtue recently revealed that she and Morgan Rielly are engaged. Congrats to Mo and Tessa!

Happy Wednesday everyone!