Leafs Prospects Watch: Marner’s Last Act, Memorial Cup Fever

No matter how many scouting reports are written, pull-ups failed, or VO2 max tests performed, in hockey’s big picture, the best predictor of future on-ice performance is simply past performance. This is inarguable. 

Sure, some junior hockey players (or prospects in any sport) with staggering amounts of points have come and gone as draft busts over the years, and conversely, players have emerged as pros from humble totals as teenagers. But generally speaking, the guys who put up the numbers have always put up the numbers. 

When Mitch Marner heads to the Memorial Cup next weekend he’ll likely be putting a final stamp on his junior hockey career. And boy, has he put up the numbers to this point.

If you pull together his regular seasons and playoff runs over the last three years, Marner has now accumulated a grand total of 370 points in 218 OHL games. Further, if you zero in on postseason numbers alone, he’s managed 69 points in 34 games – good for a 2.03 points-per-game pace. 

To put Marner’s postseason rampages over the last couple years in perspective, Mario Lemieux, widely considered the best junior player to ever lace them up, only scored at a rate of 2.23 points per game in the QMJHL playoffs during the EIGHTIES. Connor McDavid’s production in the OHL postseason during his years in Erie was 2.00 on the nose. We have to note those two players would likely increase those averages if returned to junior as draft-plus-ones, but the fact remains Marner is among some heavy company when it comes to how he’s lit things up when the games get the toughest.

Now as he enters the Memorial Cup on the weekend, it seems as though Marner has all but solidifed his place as a pro next season. Of course anything can happen, and going into camp I’m sure we’ll hear Babcock and the management staff stress that everyone has to earn it, but a return to the OHL doesn’t seem in any way beneficial for Marner considering what he’s done over the last year. These past few weeks – where he nabbed 44 points in 18 games (I’m sure you’ve heard) – have simply been an exclamation mark.

Dzierkals looking to play spoiler

Marner has basically been perfect to this point, taking home the OHL’s regular season and playoff MVP hardware to go along with the Knights’ league title. But another Leafs prospect, Martins Dzierkals, will look to put a stop to all the madness when he and the Huskies go into the Memorial Cup as well.

Rouyn-Noranda finished the CHL regular season as the top-ranked team across Canada according to the league’s official site, but with the way the playoffs shook out in each region, we’ll see how the odds look before the tournament gets going.

Dzierkals has been productive in his first season in North America, notching 67 points in 59 regular season games. During the QMJHL playoffs his pace cooled a little to just 17 points in 20 games, but he did score a pair of goals in the title clinching game, and finished 18th in postseason scoring when it was said and done. Not bad for a 68th overall pick in his first season away from Latvia.

Timashov misses the dance

One of the victims on Dzierkals’ run to the President’s Cup was Dmytro Timashov and his Shawinigan Cataractes. 

The Huskies disposed of the Cats in five games in the finals, but Timashov’s overall postseason play was fantastic. Toronto’s fifth-round pick from a year ago finished up the playoffs with 28 points in 21 games, which was enough to get him into the top three in scoring just behind teammate (and Isles’ first-rounder) Anthony Beauvillier and the Huskies’ Francis Perron. 


To get all your independent scouting in on Leafs futures like Marner, Dzierkals, and J.J. Piccinich, along with a few notable prospects eligible for the draft next month, here’s the schedule for tournament:

Sportsnet will be carrying all games nationally.

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      • magesticRAGE

        It’s how you want to spin it. I think it’s a win-win as both the Huskie’s and Knights are favoured to win. Either Marner or Dzerkials should be champion, and the loser will gain valuable experience in high stake and elite junior hockey.
        I love what Marner is doing, but I’m not sure if his line is enough to stop the onslaught of the Huskies. They are unrelenting and physical. Marner, Dvorak, and Tkachuk will be playing a ton, and the Huskies better stay out the box, London has a lethal PP.