Weight: 211 pounds
Date of birth: April 16, 1998, Guelph Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 2, 31st overall, 2014 OHL Priority Selection
Bunnaman played his Minor Midget hockey for the Guelph Jr Gryphons during the 2013/14 season and in 27 games scored 18 goals and 17 assists. He added 3 goals and 4 assists in 9 playoff games. He also played in the OHL Cup compiling 3 goals and 3 assists in 5 games.
Bunnaman also appeared in the OHL Gold Cup and helped Team OMHA win gold with 3 goals and an assist in 5 games.
Last season was Bunnaman’s OHL rookie season. He appeared in all but one game for the Rangers and notched 10 goals and 5 assists in those contests. What we saw in his rookie season was a player who grew in confidence as the season progressed. He played a complete game in all three zones and earned the trust of the coaching staff and received time on the penalty kill.
Bunnaman is an excellent forechecker. He likes to play physical and completes his checks. He’s very good at protecting the puck and with his size is very good at one on one battle. He’ll also take the puck to the net, but also makes good decisions with it. He also has a heavy shot.
But Bunnaman’s skating abilities needed some improvement and it’s been a work in progress.
This season, Bunnaman has carried on from where he left off. He’s been playing more wing than center this season, but he does excellent on the dot and currently has a 58.8 winning percentage. He works as hard away from the puck, on the backcheck or in his own zone as he does in his pursuit of the puck.
While his skating has improved, it still needs some work. How much he can improve on it will determine whether he makes the NHL as a winger or a center. It could go a long way in helping him become a productive and effective two-way center. While he has some limited offensive skill and has that heavy shot, I don’t project him to be a goal scoring winger in the NHL – more of an energy guy who can score occasionally.
I had the opportunity to speak to Mike Farwell the Rangers play by play voice and host of post game show on Rogers TV.
OHLW: Do you think Connor’s game is better suited for wing or center at the next level?
Farwell: I think Connor’s game is best suited to the wing. He’ll make his living in the corners and he’s going to be downright dangerous when he figures out how big he really is.
OHLW: Connor is an excellent two-way player and works as hard in his own zone as the offensive zone. Do you see him more as a defensive player first who can provide some offense or is there another level offensively that’s still to come?
Farwell: I’m not sure there’s another offensive level for Connor – what you see is what you get. He’s not blessed with a wicked shot or the deftest hands. His game is defined by hard work and he’ll be the guy that can get those goals for you in the “dirty areas.” If he’s scoring goals from more than ten feet out, something is wrong. I can see him developing into a premier penalty killer.
OHLW: Skating was an area Connor needed to work on in the offseason, at least in my opinion, and he’s shown some improvement. Would you say it’s the biggest issue he needs to work on going forward?
Farwell: I couldn’t agree more. When I say he could develop into a premier penalty killer, that’s the area I’m thinking of that needs to develop. If and when it does, look out.
OHLW: At 6’3” and 210 pounds he has excellent size and not afraid to use it. He’s strong on the forecheck, finishes his checks, excellent on the cycle, very good puck possession player and hard to beat in battles along the wall. Can you agree with that?
Farewell: I can agree with everything you’ve said. But I honestly still believe there’s more. A little bit more nastiness, like I said above – figuring out how big he really is – is the next step.
OHLW: Can you give us some insight into Connor the person and not the player:
Farwell: Connor is a tremendous kid. Well-spoken, friendly, with a great sense of humour.
You can follow Mike on Twitter here.