Toronot Maple Leafs: The NHL needs to shrink to Mitch Marner’s level
What happened to the chatter about Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Mitch Marner’s size?
People were so quick to point out Marner’s lack of height and weight, just one month ago. They were saying he’d get pushed around, bullied and injured with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It didn’t matter how many points he got in the OHL, he still “hasn’t played one game in the NHL, that’s the only way you know how good players are.”
It didn’t matter how fast Marner was, how skilled Marner was, or how Marner made the OHL look like a beer league. None of it mattered, and now….. what happened to all of that?
Marner has quickly turned haters into fanatics. When writers compared him to players like Patrick Kane they were laughed at. But, now, Marner becoming “the next Patrick Kane” has turned from a laughable projection to an expectation.
After 17 games, Marner sits at 20th in the NHL with 16 points. It gets more impressive if you keep looking into it, 13 of those points come at even strength which puts him in 7th in the league in 5v5 points per 60 minutes.
He has also brought out the best in his line mates JVR and Tyler Bozak, who sit in 2nd and 8th in 5v5 points per 60 respectively. Marner is the straw and stirs the drink on the Leafs right now.
To start the season, it felt almost as if Marner was the forgotten prospect of the big three. Auston Matthews was scoring goals at will and Nylander was the best Leaf on the ice on many nights.
The Marner line had a bumpier start, they looked rough in their own end (still do) and had some flashes of brilliance that, at the time, made you think. “Oh yeah… we ALSO have Marner”. Well, that thought doesn’t go through fans’ minds anymore, he’s currently the main attraction on the ice.
One major point to take away from the first 17 games is the importance of balancing lines. Clearly, opposing teams have had trouble matching up against the Leafs’ three scoring lines.
Early in the year, the Matthews line was hot, now as the teams’ adjust their defences to accomidate that, the Kadri and Bozak line have taken over. In saying this, the Marner-Bozak-JVR line will cool off sooner or later.
Will Marner finish point per game this year? Probably not, but as the Leafs work on their defence and goaltending, it is a beautiful sight to see what is in store for this squad.
Matthews is still getting his chances and the goals will follow soon, Kadri is continuing to show how good he really is, and Marner….. well, he might be the reason why the Leafs are in a playoff spot by this time next week.
What do you think of Mitchell Marner’s start to the season? Are the Leafs going to continue their offensive success? Comment below!
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