It’s Mitch Marner’s turn! Which means it’s my turn, because I will never pass up an opportunity to talk about Mitch Marner. So here’s a quick look at Marner’s second year as a Toronto Maple Leaf (and his first as their leading scorer).
|GP||GOALS||ASSISTS||POINTS||CORSI % (5V5)||XGF% (5V5)|
After an impressive rookie season spent mostly on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak, Marner didn’t quite meet the sky-high expectations coming into 2017-18. He was still racking up the assists, but goals were hard to come by, and his line was looking a lot more stoppable than last year.
However, not long after an explosive four-point performance in the aptly named “next century game” against Carolina on December 19, Marner made a permanent move to Nazem Kadri’s wing, and all the concerns about his “sophomore slump” were suddenly forgotten. In fact, Marner ended 2017-18 with more goals than he put up last year, and more points in both the regular season and the playoffs, where he was arguably the Leafs’ best player.
The only reason I’m not pushing this to an A+ (and it was a close thing) is because it did take Marner a while to get going this season. I was staunchly on the positive side of all the thinkpieces back in November (no really, here’s me in November telling y’all why we shouldn’t be worried about him), but he didn’t exactly dazzle in the first few months, and I probably wouldn’t give an A+ to anyone else who had a rough start to the season. He more than made up for the start, though, by absolutely kicking ass through the second half and the playoffs. *fire emoji*
I just want to make sure and call your attention to Mitchell Marner’s point total for the 2017-18 regular season, which led all Leafs. It was 69. Feel free to react in the comments.
UPDATE: After spending close to an hour looking for typo’s I failed to catch a small one in Marner’s chart at the top of the thread (D’oh!) The number of assists he had was wrong, so it’s not really a big deal but here’s the correct version for anyone who wants to use it: pic.twitter.com/FkXPxjAmXX
— Ziggy (@Ziggy_14) April 21, 2018
If Nazem Kadri is the Leafs’s second-line centre (he is), that means Mitch Marner spent most of his time (certainly the best of his time) on the second line…which holds up.
While Mitch Marner definitely had some beauty goals this season (the Next Century game vs. Carolina and his Game 6 GWG especially come to mind), I love to watch him pass. He also loves to pass, so it’s a win-win. Choosing this highlight might be cheating, since it was the only game I actually attended, but it is also peak Marner, so what’s the problem?
You thought he was gonna shoot, I thought he was gonna shoot, and Ben Bishop definitely thought he was gonna shoot. But instead he picks up the rebound and dishes to Kadri, who almost didn’t even have to move his stick.
Marner took some flack this season for being too pass-first, and it’s possible that mentality hurt his production a little bit early on in the year. But when so many of his passes lead to highlight-reel goals, it’s pretty hard to see where that’s a bad thing. Later in the season, he took more advantage of his reputation, too, by letting opponents assume he would pass and going for the shot instead. (The more he can keep other teams guessing, the better, but how ’bout them apples?)
Please feel free to hit me up for more highlights, also. It was tough to pick just one.
So, good news: Mitch Marner is just gonna keep getting better. More good news: he’s a Leaf. Even more good news: he still has another year on his ELC.
Now just imagine if he got to play with Auston Matthews…….. Jk, jk. Well not really kidding, I think we would all love to see that. But Mike Babcock has made it pretty clear that’s not an option for the immediate future, and with all the forward depth Toronto is currently boasting, I think the Leafs can afford to spread their talent down the lineup. Plus, Marner has looked awesome in prolonged time with two completely different lines, as well as on the power play and various other spots he’s bounced to and from the last two years. So even though seeing him play with Matthews is a delight and I’d love to see what they could do on a more regular basis, I get it. And I’m not mad.
It’s hard to know just what the Leafs roster might look like next year, but it would be surprising if Marner doesn’t at least start the season back with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. The three of them made a great team in the second half of the season, and Mike Babcock doesn’t typically like to mess around if he’s got a good thing going.
Whoever Mitch Marner ends up on a line with next season, though, I think we can all agree that there’s no need to worry he won’t live up to his rookie year. Been there, done that, proved the haters wrong.