Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Mitch Marner Underappreciated?

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

When the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Mitch Marner 4th overall in the 2015 NHL draft, many fans didn’t know what the team was getting. Some fans were even upset that the Leafs drafted Marner over defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs needed help on defense, but Marner has been the right choice. It did not take him long to show the team and the fans what he can do at the NHL level. During his rookie season in 2016-17, Marner recorded 19 goals and 42 assists for 61 points in 77 games.

That would prove to be just a small taste of what the young playmaker is capable of doing. The following season, Marner showed no signs of any kind of sophomore slump. He only proved to be getting better and finished that season with 22 goals and 47 assists for 69 points in 82 games.

Before his third season, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed unrestricted free agent John Tavares and that would help Marner have his best season to date. Marner recorded 26 goals and 68 assists for 94 points in 82 games.

Mitch Marner Is The Toronto Maple Leafs Top Playmaker

Marner has spent almost every game of his young NHL career on either the first or second line. The reason for that is his incredible ability to create space and set up his linemates.

He has lead the Maple Leafs in assists four years in a row including his rookie season of 2016-17. So far this season he is leading in that category once again. Playing with players such as Matthews and Tavares is a benefit for a playmaker like Marner.

A big reason for Tavares scoring 47 goals during his first season in Toronto was having Marner on his line. If the Covid-19 virus didn’t put an early end to last season, Matthews would have reached 50 goals and Marner was a huge part of that.

Marner currently has 38 points and is 4th in the NHL points standings. Of those 38 points, 27 of them are assists.

Did The Toronto Maple Leafs Overpay Micth Marner?

After the 2018-19 season in which Marner recorded 94 points in 82 games, the Leafs awarded him with a six-year deal worth a total of $65.408 million. His annual salary cap hit is $10.903 million and eats up 13.4% of the Maple Leafs total cap. That is the third-highest after Tavares (13.5%) and Matthews (14.3%). (

Although he is the 7th highest-paid player in the NHL right now, I still don’t think he is being overpaid. If he keeps producing at the same rate he has been over the last four and a half seasons, this deal will look like a bargain in a few years.

I think his salary gets in the way of some fans’ appreciation for what he brings to the team. Yes, he gets paid a lot of money, but he is one of the best playmakers in the NHL. He makes those around him better and we should be happy to have him on our team setting up Matthews regularly.

Matthews has a very good chance of winning the Hart Trophy this season as the NHL’s leading scorer. If he wins, he will owe some of the credit to his linemate, Mitch Marner. It is a pleasure to watch Marner play and I look forward to doing so for a long time.

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I do think that Marner is underappreciated by some, but if he keeps playing at the high level he is playing at right now, the respect will follow.