Toronto Maple Leafs: Mitchell Marner is No Consolation Prize


Toronto Maple Leafs: Mitchell Marner is No Consolation Prize

The Toronto Maple Leafs did their absolute best to hit rock bottom last season and secure the highest odds of picking first overall in this year’s entry draft, but they weren’t even good at that. (Oh, the shame of being a Leafs fan.)

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Mitchell Marner heads to the stage after being selected as the number four overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto ultimately finished in fourth-last place and ended up with the fourth overall pick, which was the predictable outcome: things never quite work out for the Leafs. That led to the selection of Mitchell Marner, not Connor McDavid, as the team’s first pick.

Is that a bad thing?

There’s no doubt McDavid was the top prize in this year’s draft – a “franchise” player as many people have already described him – but it’s not like the Leafs were left with a consolation prize or something.

Marner has bedazzled fans of the London Knights over the past two seasons.

Jul 2, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; NHL draft number one pick Connor McDavid talks to the media after taking part in the Edmonton Oilers rookie camp at the Rexall Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

In his rookie season for the Knights, Marner registered 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists) in 64 games. Those numbers are good, but what he accomplished last season puts them to shame: 126 points (44 goals, 82 assists) in one less game. We’re taking about an explosion of growth at the OHL level in just one season. He would add 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) across seven playoff games before the Knights fell to McDavid’s Erie Otters in the second round of the OHL playoffs.

To put that in perspective, McDavid recorded 66 points (25 goals, 41 assists) in his first 63 games with the Otters. He improved the following season to hit 99 points (28 goals, 71 assists) in 56 games before blowing everyone’s stakes off last season: McDavid managed a staggering 120 points (44 goals, 76 assists) in just 47 games.

It’s important to note that while both players are 18 years old, McDavid has three OHL seasons under his belt. Obviously, that one extra season in the world’s top developmental hockey league can make a world of difference.

Unsurprisingly, Marner and McDavid finished 2-3 in OHL scoring last season behind Dylan Strome (third overall pick), who collected 129 points (45 goals, 84 assists) across 68 games. All three players are studs.

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  • If there’s one obvious knock against Marner, it concerns his size. has him listed at 5-11 and 160 points. This might sound like a potential problem, but it’s important to remember that Marner’s only 18 years old; he’s still growing into his size.

    Beyond that, it’s worth noting the ascendance of the “little guy” in today’s NHL. From Sidney Crosby to Patrick Kane, Martin St. Louis to Jordan Eberle, there’s plenty of room for players of all shapes and sizes. A team (or journalist) that prioritizes size over skill should really rethink things; it’s a formula for ridicule.

    The immediate future for Marner isn’t clear – he might spend a season or two with the Toronto Marlies or he could make the big club right out of training camp – but the long-term future looks bright.

    He’s a winner – there’s no other way to put it.

    What do you think? Disappointed in the selection? Is it too early to tell? Does size matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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