Not to be outdone by Andreas Johnson, Maple Leafs prospect scored his own hat trick last night in a 6-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires. They were all pretty goals; so pretty, in fact, that I made Jeff Veillette GIF all three of them for me so that I could share them with you. Stick tap to you, Jeffrey.
With the hat trick, Marner now has 14 points in his last five games and 50 points in 23 games on the season. We were all very impressed with his 126 points last year, but Marner is currently on pace to absolutely destroy that with 147 points. These kinds of insane numbers are making fans and media alike wonder if Mitch Marner is already too good for the OHL.
In fact, that exact topic came up when Bob McKenzie joined Steve Simmons and Dave Feschuk (bear with me here) on TSN Drive yesterday afternoon. Here’s what Uncle Bob had to say…
If you go watch Mitch Marner play for the London Knights right now, you see him average better than two points a game, but I think he’s probably taking shifts that are probably considered too long, I think there are some nights where he can score his two or three points and never break a sweat, and sometimes the Junior game might almost be too easy for him.
I’d be very, very surprised if the Leafs could send him back to Junior for another year next year, simply because I think he’s got to start learning to be a professional with shorter shifts and overall more commitment to the game.
But, the scouts I talk to really believe that Mitch Marner has a chance to be quote-on-quote a special player, that he has gifts that are so enormous in terms of his vision and his ability to make plays. When I saw him in Windsor for the Subway Super Series game a few weeks ago, I was really impressed at how much quicker he was, how much more pop was in his stride, and physically he looks stronger. Now, I think he’s still got a significant way to go on that front, but if I’m the Leafs I don’t know how you send him back to Junior hockey for another year because I think he’s almost outgrown it at this point.
Simmons did go on to ask about the possibility of joining a European team ‘a-la Auston Matthews’ if Marner wasn’t NHL ready next year, but still too good for the OHL. McKenzie stated he wasn’t sure about the possibility of playing in Europe (I don’t think it’s possible), but did answer that it isn’t necessarily about playing against men, but getting Marner in with NHL coaches and participating in NHL practices, and of course, playing in NHL games.