Mitch Marner Excelling at the Perfect Time for the Toronto Maple Leafs

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

Drafted fourth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Mitch Marner was a star player from the time he entered the league just over a year later.

The Toronto Maple Leafs shifty right winger was named to the All Rookie Team in 2017 after recording 61-points in his debut tour and continued his improvement over his first few seasons.

For Marner, things started a little rocky with the organization when then GM Lou Lamoreillo refused to give the future star the Performance B bonuses on his entry level contract and then he was sent back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in his first draft plus one season when he was good enough to crack the roster.

In hindsight, the move worked out perfectly for the organization, as Marner would have likely played well enough for the team not to get Auston Matthews.

Mitch Marner Excelling at the Perfect Time for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Once back in junior, Marner did anything but sulk, winning a World Junior Championship, Ontario Hockey League Championship, Memorial Cup, OHL MVP and CHL player of the year.

Fans were elated that the team had a hometown kid that looked to be a superstar in the making, however, things would sour with a portion of the fanbase after the final year of his ELC. Marner finished the year recording 94-points and went into the summer with no contract and he waited until the final day before training camp started to sign a massive six-year deal worth $10.9 Million per season, a contract much higher than other similar players had signed for.

Most fans wanted either an eight-year deal or a contract for much less, a portion of the fanbase would be disgruntled as they felt since he was a hometown kid he should take a discount to help bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto, while forgetting Marner likely missed out on millions because he was unable to obtain any performance bonuses on his ELC.

What frustrated fans more about Marner even more so than his contract, was his inability to come through in the playoffs and what appeared to be more of a desire to make a fancy play rather the right play.

The Playoffs Were a Struggle

After signing his massive extension, it would be years before Marner would score a playoff goal, as he would go goalless in the entire Columbus series, while failing to get on the scoresheet in three of the five games. The following year against the Montreal Canadiens in a seven game series, Marner would again go the series without a goal, while registering just four assists.

Over the last two seasons, Marner has been better registering 22 points in 18 playoffs games, but has still left fans wanting more as he is one of the top paid players in the league they've wanted him to take over games which just hasn't happened.

This season there has been something different in Marner's game.

To the naked eye, the two-time first team right winger has looked like he has taken gigantic strides in his game. There are a lot less mistakes and gaffs in his game, while also doing a lot of the smaller things to help the team win games. Marner has stopped forcing plays that aren't there and is able to hold onto the puck and shift around the offensive zone until a teammate can get open or a lane to the net frees up.

With still over 20-games to play in the season, Magic Mitch has already set a career high in blocked shots and is flirting with topping his hits in a season. He is on pace to top the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career, but as stated there is something more he has brought onto the ice. When Marner is on the ice, it looks as though, he along with Matthews are playing against players a level or two below them.


While he has already proven to be a dominant player at junior and during the regular season in the NHL, the true test will come in the playoffs where fans will really get to see if Marner has taken this next stage in his career.