Criticism of Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner is Off-Base

It took only two games into the postseason for the rebuke of the Leafs star winger to begin. Marner demonstrated during Game 3 that he is not a player to give up on.
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

It didn't take long for the critics of Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner to pounce.

After being held scoreless during the first two games of the Toronto Maple Leafs series against the Boston Bruins, a well known tabloid paper labeled him "The Invisible Leaf".

Such is life as a high-profile member of the Leafs in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto. Perhaps, it is because Marner has only scored one goal in his last twelve postseason games. Maybe, it was the perceived lack of effort on the forecheck during Game 2.

The take, however, is lazy and convenient.

The detractors have already chosen Marner as this year's scapegoat for this spring's perceived inevitable failure by the Leafs.

Criticism of Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner is Offbase

Before this year's playoffs began, Marner was nursing a lower-body injury that forced him to miss a dozen games near the end of the regular season. He had only a handful of games to ready himself for the increased intensity of the playoffs. Plus, he was placed on a new line without Auston Matthews.

Marner's lack of playoff production is overstated. Before Game 3 against the Bruins, he had 47 points in 52 career games, slightly less than a point per game. He averages 1.11 points per game during the regular season. (All statistics courtesy of

The 52 games amount to slightly over half a season. Even star players have dry spells that will skew the numbers, especially over a smaller sample size. Over the past seven postseasons, Marner has averaged over a point per game in three of them.

In last year's playoffs, he led the Maple Leafs in points with 14 in only 11 games. Also, Matthews, William Nylander, and John Tavares have not produced in the playoffs to their regular season levels, yet Marner bears the brunt of the criticism.

The Leafs Ridding Themselves of Marner Would Be a Mistake

As it always does around the Leafs, another unsuccessful playoff will bring chatter of a shakeup, with Marner's name front and center. He is the next big-name player up for a contract extension.

Should the Leafs have another early exit, talk will begin about trading him, likely for a defenseman. That would be a mistake. The significant, minimum return would have to be a top-two defender. Teams do not put those types of players on the market.

Besides, at his best, Marner is a top-15 player in the NHL. He scores, defends, and plays in all situations.

During Game 3 against the Bruins, Marner started to emerge from his funk. His gorgeous pass to set up Matthew Knies got the Leafs the all-important first goal. A few shifts later, an unfortunate bounce kept him from scoring as Tavares' skate blocked his shot on what looked like a sure goal.

Matthews was not as dominant as he was in Game 2, while the Marner-Tavares-Knies combination generated chances.

Being a star player in Toronto comes with a lot of scrutiny. It's part of the reason why some players avoid coming to the Leafs. An impatient fanbase and media can drive a player away.

The series versus the Bruins is in its early stages and this core has many contending years ahead, thanks to their star players.


Mitch Marner is a player the Toronto Maple Leafs need to keep around.