Toronto Maple Leafs: Should Marner and Tavares play on the penalty kill?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10: Mitchell Marner
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10: Mitchell Marner /

Mike Babcock told reporters on Saturday that Mitch Marner and John Tavares could see time on the Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill.

The Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill could get a serious injection of skill according to head coach Mike Babcock.

It is a concept the Leafs never used in the past but it is not unheard of even though the injury risk of blocking a shot keeps most teams from doing that. In Tavares’ last two seasons with the New York Islanders, he was used on the penalty kill so this wouldn’t be foreign territory for him.

As Chris Johnston of Sportsnet writes, Marner hasn’t killed penalties since his time with the London Knights. This isn’t surprising considering his skill set and role as an offensive contributor.

We know from past seasons that the Leafs penalty kill has featured Leo Komarov, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Dominic Moore, Kasperi Kapanen and at times Patrick Marleau up front.

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Now with the addition of Par Lindholm and Andreas Johnsson expected to make the team fulltime, a question some might be wondering is whether it makes sense to have Marner and Tavares kill penalties?

Looking around the league players like Anze Kopitar, Brayden Point, Dylan Larkin, Sean Couturier, Aleksander Barkov, William Karlsson, Tyler Seguin, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, and Brad Marchand are examples of skilled forwards who were in the top 100 in ice time on the penalty.

Some teams want to have a skilled player try to make offensive plays on the penalty kill and that’s a possibility for the Leafs with Marner and Tavares.

Marner told reporters that this opportunity could also make him a better defensive player at even strength.

"“It sounds exciting,” Marner told Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. “I killed penalties in junior. Obviously this is a different animal. If you kill penalties, it makes you better. You learn to play the angles better. It helps you at even strength.”"

One thing Babcock wanted to make clear is that this idea would only work if Marner and Tavares are effective in their own end.

"“They’ve got to be good killers. It’s not just ‘it’s a good theory and it’s good for their ice time,’” Babcock told reporters. “I don’t care about that. I like winning.”"

There is no reason to take unnecessary risks if you’re the Leafs considering how important both forwards are to the offensive success of the team. Babcock isn’t new to this idea considering the players he had with the Detroit Red Wings and his experience with Team Canada.

It could also open the door for Nazem Kadri and Auston Matthews to be potential options as well. What many should be wondering, however, is which defencemen get used on the penalty kill considering the amount of time Ron Hainsey was used last season.

The Leafs aren’t betting on this being a big part of their penalty kill so it’s not something to get too worked up about but it’s an interesting storyline developing in the early part of training camp.

Next. Tavares responds to Lamoriello's comments. dark

What do you think about the Leafs potentially using Tavares and Marner on the penalty kill? Who else should be in that role? Let us know in the comments below.