Toronto Maple Leafs: Expect Hart Trophy Performance from Mitch Marner

Toronto Maple Leafs - Mitchell Marner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Mitchell Marner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the Montreal Canadiens last year, and if there is one player who took the most blame, it’s Mitch Marner.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were without John Tavares for the entire series, and Jake Muzzin for the final game, but if they had of gotten any production out of their $11 million dollar winger, they would have won anyways.

Marner notched just four assists in seven games against Montreal.  In his last 18 playoff games, he has zero goals. He also has shot the puck over the glass for a penalty an inordinate amount of times.

People are frustrated about the Leafs and Marner had taken a lot more than his fair share of the blame.  The good news, however is this: you don’t become one of the best players in a professional sports league if you don’t have the ability to fuel yourself with your failures.

I fully expect Marner to  compete for, and maybe even win, the Hart Trophy this season. (all stats

Toronto Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner scored at a 100 point pace last year, came second in 5v5 scoring, and fourth in total scoring.  He likely would have finished higher in all categories if not for the ten game stretch where Auston Matthews couldn’t shoot the puck.

He is also one of the only elite scorers to provide his team with elite defense.  Marner was (according to the Jfresh Cards) ranked in the 80th percentile of NHL forwards when it comes to defense last season.  If this is what he will provide going forward, and not just an aberration, then Marner is likely the third best player in the NHL after McDavid and Matthews.

He just turned 24 this year, so he should be at his absolute peak.  Additionally, he is going to be the hungriest player in hockey, because the failure of last season’s playoffs won’t sit well with him.

He was already the NHL’s second-best 5v5 point producer, and now he’s got something to prove. The Toronto Maple Leafs are built around Auston Matthews and his incredible shot – but Marner has been working on his shot and plans to score more goals this year.  If he’s a goal scoring threat, the combo that was already the NHL’s best is going to be even better.

Connor McDavid is going to be tough to outscore, but if anyone can do it, I think it’s Marner.  I am not saying he will, just that it’s a possibility. I think the Toronto Maple Leafs are embarrassed by their failure last year, and that subsequently they are going to punish the rest of the NHL for it.

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If you take the talent on this team and you give them something to prove, it just might be incendiary. I couldn’t be more excited for this season, and the main reason is that happy-go-lucky Mitch Marner has been replaced with a hungry maniac who won’t stop until he’s the league MVP and he hoists the Stanley Cup.