5 questions for Mitch Marner this season
Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
By Shane Seney2 months ago
We’re back for another edition of ‘5 Questions’ after starting off the series with questions focusing on Auston Matthews. Today’s piece moves from Matthews to his right wing, as we check in with Mitch Marner.
Marner had himself a huge summer, tying the knot and now appears set for a career season in 2023-24. He’s been absolutely buzzin’ during camp and in preseason action and is poised to put up some numbers alongside Matthews and new linemate Tyler Bertuzzi. Here’s five questions for #16 of the Maple Leafs:
Are 100 points on the horizon?
We saw last season how close Marner was to getting 100 points as his teammates were doing whatever they could the last game of the year to try and get him another point. This season there shouldn’t be much need to press like that, because with another year under his belt, he should have the ability to reach 100 with ease.
The trio of Marner, Matthews, and Bertuzzi are going to do some serious damage. They’ve shown already in camp and preseason that chemistry is not an issue and they’ll be hitting the score sheet early and often this year. Expect to see Marner eclipse the 30-goal mark once again this season as Bertuzzi is a much better playmaker than Michael Bunting. There’s also the penalty kill to consider. Marner and Matthews look like they’ll be paired up shorthanded, meaning he could finish with more than the five shorthanded points he registered in 2022-23.
100? I’m gonna guess he hits 108.
Is a Selke trophy in the cards this season?
With Patrice Bergeron retiring, it finally gave everyone else in the league a fair shot at winning the Selke trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Marner finished third last season in voting, and he could be in a battle with Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils for top spot. Hischier was the clear cut runner up to Bergeron in 2022-23 and will once again be in the conversation at season’s end.
Marner’s 200-foot game is as solid as they come and it seems like it’s been gradually improving these past few seasons. Expect to see much more of the same as the forward is very committed to both sides of the puck. His ability to read the play and get into passing lanes is some of his best work.
With how much Matthews is emphasizing on the defensive-side of the puck this season, could we see both #34 and #16 finish top-5 in Selke votes? They were #3 and #14 in 2022-23.
The last Maple Leaf to win the award was Doug Gilmour in 1993.
How many times will Leafs Nation yell ‘SHOOOOT’?
The first few seasons of Marner’s career, he was overpassing. There would be multiple times throughout a game where the crowd would yell ‘shoooot’. He was looking for the extra pass and looking to make highlight reel plays almost every shift.
I think he’s done a great job shooting more of late and he should continue putting pucks on net this season. Marner finished last season with 196 shots , so surpassing the 200-shot mark shouldn’t be out of the question.
However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be moments of frustration. Marner, Matthews and Bertuzzi are going to get fancy from time to time and look for the extra pass or ‘easier goal’. It’s going to be fun to watch the Leafs top line, but they’ll also make us all shake our heads at times.
Will the ‘Clutch Gene’ continue?
While there’s been a ton of focus on this Maple Leafs core not being able to produce when it matters, it’s important to appreciate Marner’s work. He registered 14 points in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season and the year before it was eight points in seven playoff games.
Even after a couple of terrible showings in the postseason, Marner’s career numbers are just under a point-a-game in the playoffs (47p in 50gp).
Add in 16 game-winning points during the course of the regular season and it’s not surprising to see how much impact Marner has on the Maple Leafs’ victories. He’s improving in that department, and he is going to continue to develop the ‘clutch gene’.
The Maple Leafs have an opportunity to go deep this season, and if they do, Marner will be a big part of it.
What is his ceiling?
At 26 years old, Marner is smack dab in the middle of his prime. So, what is his ceiling? 100-points and a Selke trophy? Or is it possible he hits 110-120 points and puts his name in the conversation for the Selke and the Hart?
The possibilities are endless with Marner. He’s playing alongside his best buddy who also happens to be a world-class talent and Bertuzzi, who is the perfect compliment to the line. He contributes on the power play, penalty kill and on both sides of the puck.
Kids, if you’re trying to learn the game, watch #16 of the Maple Leafs. He plays the game the right way and he’s one of the players who could be instrumental in getting this team to heights we haven’t seen around here in a very long time.
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