The Toronto Maple Leafs have had some awful playoff results during Mitch Marner’s career, but even that doesn’t fully explain how he become so underated.
The Toronto Maple Leafs second-best player is not underrated in the traditional sense.
He is very popular, people know who he is, he’s an allstar, an award nominee, and he roundly considered one of the best players in the NHL.
The thing is, Marner should be more or less universally acknowledged as one of the NHL’s top five or six players, but he’s barely even listed that highly on positional rankings.
Underrated Marner Is a Top 5 NHL Player, at the Very Least
It’s weird how many players who score around the same amount as Marner, but who play objectively worse defense, are considered superior players.
Here is just an example of what I mean.
Last year, when Marner was on the ice, the Leafs got 53% of the shot-attempts and shots. They got 62% of the goals, and 55% Expected Goals. (naturalstattrick.com).
Here is a comparison to a different player, roundly considered better than the underrated Leafs superstar. This player’s team had 55% of the shot-attempts and 53% of the shots. They got 61% of the goals, and 53% of the Expected Goals.
Marner’s stats were better the year before as well.
Additionally, Marner plays 2 minutes per game on the PK, and Nathan MacKinnon does not.
Marner has significantly better defense, plays the PK, gets better 5v5 results and scores only slightly less.
And yet, Marner is considered to be about the fourth or fifth best right-winger in the NHL, while Nathan MacKinnon often gets ranked ahead of Auston Matthews as the NHL’s second-best player.
Does an extra half point over every 60 minutes of ice time really outweigh better 5v5 results, better defense and elite penalty killing skills?
I don’t think it does.
And while the fact is that MacKinnon has a Stanley Cup and Marner’s team hasn’t made it past the second round, when MacKinnon, who is two years older, was the age Marner is today, he didn’t have a Stanley Cup either.
Speaking of the Stanley Cup, Marner likely eventually gets one. On top of that, while Marner has a bad reputation for playing badly in the playoffs, that just isn’t true. Over 50 games, he has nearly a point per game and an elite Expected Goals rating. (see above).
The fact is, Marner is the better player, with better stats and a higher impact on more of the game. People just over-compensate for the Toronto Maple Leafs being the centre of the hockey universe, and combined with nearly unbelievable bad luck in the playoffs, it’s combined to make Marner the most underrated player alive.
After Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Cale Makar, the fourth best player alive is the insanely underrated Mitch Marner.