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Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski | USA Today

2017-18 Leafs Season in Review: Mitch Marner

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).

Stats

GP GOALS ASSISTS POINTS CORSI % (5V5) XGF% (5V5)
82 22 47 69 51.88 53.79

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.

Grade: A

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*

Fun Fact

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.

Production Snapshot

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.

Season Highlight

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.

2018-19 Outlook

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.

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  • LAKID

    Well who do you keep Matthews, Nylander , Marner or Babcock? When your head coach has to flyout to carress your under performing,overated player’s ego who is to blame and who should go? The players stopped playing for Babcock or are they just heartless and play with no grit? Mitch Marner was the better of the three in the playoffs, so who do you get rid of?

  • Matmarwill

    There’s a real chance that nylander ends up as the 3c, and therefore mitch would become auston’s rw. Now, this only changes if the buds sign tavares, which seems a remote possibility unless john agrees to 8m aav. With auston as mitch’s center, both of them could crack a ppg.

    With one or two upgrades on d, willie at 3c and mitch at 1rw, the leafs could really contend next season, imho.