Where Should Mitch Marner Play When He Returns to the Lineup?

There’s a plethora of possibilities for the Maple Leafs when it comes to inserting Marner into the lineup
Feb 29, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) during warm up
Feb 29, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) during warm up / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Marner Rumbling on the Fourth Line?

So how about Marner on the bottom checking line, joining the likes of Connor Dewar/Ryan Reaves and David Kampf?

Should that idea even be considered? Well, if the Leafs plan to give Marner a few shifts to start on the fourth line to get him back up to game speed after his month-long absence, then it could be a good temporary move.

But if they plan to actually keep him there for an entire game and more, just like when he was punished several years ago for his lackluster play by putting him with Matt Martin and company, then that would probably end up being more detrimental to the team than helping it in the end.

By wasting Marner’s offensive talents with defensively-minded players on the fourth line, in a way it inadvertently helps the opposing team shut down one of the best players in the game for them. So for this option, a 100% no-no for sure.

The Verdict

If history holds true on how head coach Sheldon Keefe usually manages the team, we will most likely see Marner back on the top line with his old buddy Matthews the moment he makes his return.

In doing so, Domi will most likely be moved and either bump McMann from the second line or centre the third line with the team rookies. Hopefully in doing so, it doesn’t mess up too much of the chemistry generated by the recent line combinations in the past month.

But in reality, trying Marner on the third line would present the best high-risk, high-reward possibility for the Leafs going forward. If the combination indeed ends up working surprisingly, then by the time the playoffs roll around, the Leafs would own one of the league’s top one-two-three punch, making them a frightful force to be reckoned with.


All in all, it’s worth a try, because if it doesn’t end up working out in the next week or so, they can always revert back to plan for the final couple of weeks in preparation for the playoffs with no harm done.