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The Marner and Domi combination is something the Maple Leafs should explore more

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
6 months ago
Did you know that Mitch Marner and Max Domi played junior hockey together for the London Knights? I mention this because I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been brought up anywhere else in the past few days and certainly wasn’t mentioned over the summer when Domi signed as well.
Anyways, it has been well established that Domi and Marner played together and were quite successful. Based on Domi having his best game as a Leaf the other night it seems entirely possible that they could be successful once again and in the spirit of small samples and recency bias, let’s take a look at whether it is feasible to keep them together.
First off, with William Nylander now riding shotgun with Auston Matthews on most nights this doesn’t have much of an impact to Auston. That’s probably the first question that needs to be asked and Marner can still spend every powerplay bending over backwards to find an open Matthews in the high slot. All is good on that front. Given that Matthew Knies seemed to do pretty well with Domi and Marner as well, you could make a case for him being part of what the Leafs hope to achieve and that would mean going with one of Gregor, Bertuzzi, or Robertson on the Matthews line. Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to giving Bertuzzi another look there now that he’s had a chance to get comfortable as a Leaf, but not a big deal.
Domi and Marner together also seems like it has the potential to use the two playmakers as goal scorers as well. Both are capable passers that can find one another for wide open tap ins. This serves both players that lack powerful shots but certainly have soft hands. This approach served Domi well in Chicago playing with Patrick Kane, he scored more 5v5 goals and put up more points with Kane than any other Blackhawk and of course, the duo worked well together on the powerplay as well, but I think it will be some time before we talk about Domi and Marner on the top powerplay unit together for the Leafs, unless Toronto revisits a five forward unit.
The move would also allow for Toronto to test having the core four forwards spread across three lines, something the Leafs haven’t explored much in past seasons. A Tavares line potentially with Bertuzzi and Robertson would give the Leafs three strong scoring lines and Toronto would have the opportunity to insert Calle Jarnkrok as needed as well or give some of Robertson’s shifts/time on ice to Marner and Nylander as well to get what they need out of Tavares.
Auston Matthews being ill on Saturday night certainly showed that there are more opportunities open to the Leafs than the conventional lines that Sheldon Keefe has been utilizing have shown and as the Leafs are comfortably sliding back into their usual 2nd/3rd place spot in the Atlantic Division it seems like Toronto will have an opportunity to explore what is possible with their lineup card down the stretch to identify where the roster gaps might truly lie and what might be in their best interest come playoff time.
Data from Natural Stat Trick
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