The gap in the course of the Washington Capitals lineup with Niklas Backstrom out injured regarded regarded tailor made for 2019 first-round choose Connor McMichael, who impressed final season as a rookie within the American Hockey League.

The spot nonetheless may be his. But 2020 first-rounder Hendrix Lapierre, who’s a 12 months youthful and got here in with much less fanfare, has been among the many greatest coaching camp surprises across the NHL and will land a spot on the opening evening roster.

MICHAEL BUNTING, TORONTO

Lost within the Maple Leafs’ star energy of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander is their trial-and-error course of to construct round a core that has but to make it previous the primary spherical of the playoffs. Gritty Nick Ritchie and expert Ondrej Kase are a part of the brand new combine, however so is Bunting, who signed a $1.9 million, two-year contract as a free agent.

No participant has extra preseason targets than Bunting’s 4 (by means of Sunday), and he’s projected to begin the season alongside Tavares.

“He’s been kind of a late bloomer: someone who’s had to prove a lot of people wrong and just always had that attitude of finding a way,” Tavares told reporters.

Bunting, 26, has 14 factors in 26 NHL video games with Arizona, however his camp exhibiting isn’t any shock to Maple Leafs common supervisor Kyle Dubas, who drafted him within the Ontario Hockey League with Sault Ste. Marie. Bunting may now be one of many lacking items of Toronto’s Stanley Cup puzzle.