The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to play at a historic pace this season, and a large part of their success has been thanks to the elite play of Mitch Marner.
As far as scrutiny goes, players for the Toronto Maple Leafs arguably receive far more of it than the majority of players around the NHL, and Mitch Marner certainly fits into that category due in large part to his contract.
Everyone remembers the awkward contract negotiations that took place during the summer of 2019, with all manner of reports and rumours portraying the young star in what can be best described as a bad light.
A $10.893 million cap hit (which has now risen to $10.903 million) is a lot for someone who is not the team’s primary goal scorer, or even arguably the team’s top star, but that is the amount the Leafs were willing to pay and, rightly or wrongly, Marner’s play has garnered plenty of attention as a result of it.
At the start of the 2021/22 season, Marner went through one of the most notable slumps of his young career, registering just one assist through the first seven games of the season – leading to talk of his contract once again.
Fast forward to Game 37 of Marner’s season, and the 24-year-old Markham, Ontario native is once again showing the entire league why he deserves to be paid like one of the NHL’s elite – that is because he is exactly that.
After his initial blip to begin the year, Marner is now averaging more than a point-per-game this season, scoring 17 goals and adding 26 helpers for 43 points – and his performances over the past ten games has seen him produce at an explicably high rate.
Ten goals and ten assists have seen Marner put up 20 points through the last ten games, guiding the Leafs to a very healthy 7-3-0 record as they continue their push towards the franchise record single-season points total of 105, which by all accounts they are expected to eclipse and then some.
Seven of the last ten games have seen Marner register at least two points, and only two of them have seen him blanked, and his most recent appearance, the 6-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken, saw him become just the second player in the 2015 draft class reach 400 career points.
McDavid, of course, is the only other player from that year to reach the milestone, and Marner achieved the feat in his 392nd game with the Leafs – with five players of the same class having already played more times than the elite playmaker.
Marner will always face questions while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, that is almost a given for anyone with an ounce of talent playing for the team, but his play is surely showing the world that he shouldn’t be doubted and his cap hit is, in reality, fully deserved for what he gives the team on the ice.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs have any hope of lifting the Stanley Cup this decade, ending their often mocked championship drought, one of the biggest reasons will be having an elite player such as Mitch Marner performing at the level he is currently.