Nation Network Prospect Profiles: #4 Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner has been one of the biggest risers in this year’s draft rankings thanks to a jaw-dropping offensive season with the OHL’s London Knights where he demonstrated an elite offensive skillset. 

Let’s dig a bit more into Marner’s impressive draft year. 

Bio:

  • Age: 17.37 years old at start of season. Born April 5th, 1997
  • Birthplace: Markham, Ontario
  • Frame: 5’11, 169 lbs
  • Draft Year Team: London Knights (OHL)
  • Accomplishments: 2014 Member of Team Ontario for the WHC U17 Junior Super Series, 2014 OHL Secon All-Rookie Team, 2015 Member of Team Canada for Ivan Hlinka U18 tournament, 2015 OHL First Team All Star

Stats:

GP ES G ES A1 ES A2 ES Pts ES Pts/GP ES GF% ES GF% Rel TmG% TmPts% AA Pts/GP EA Pts/GP Adj Pts/GP
63 25 25 12 62 0.98 70.0% +23.0% 16.4% 46.8% 1.85 2.15 1.99
  • TmG% = Percentage of team goals a player scored in that player’s games played
  • TmPts% = Percentage of team goals a player registered points on in that player’s games played
  • AA Pts/GP = Age adjusted points per game
  • EA Pts/GP = Era and league adjusted points per game
  • Adj Pts/GP = Age, era, and league adjusted points per game
PCS% 2014 PCS Pts/82 2014 PCS% 2015 PCS Pts/82 2015
33.8% 51.2 65.0% 67.6
PCS Most NHL GP PCS Highest Pts/GP
Steve Yzerman Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic Steve Yzerman
Ray Whitney Michel Goulet

Scouts:

Draft rank:

NHL CSS ISS FutureConsiderations HockeyProspect Pronman McKeen’s McKenzie Button
6 (NA) 6 5 4 3 4 4 4

From Todd Cordell, HockeyProspect.com:

Mitch Marner is easily one of the most skilled players in this draft. He is a very good skater who has a fluid stride and uses stops/starts effectively to lose defenders. He’s very good through the neutral zone as he’s quick, has excellent puck skills and the ability to elude defenders in space, He possesses exceptional vision and passing ability but is also an underrated scorer. His shot isn’t overly powerful but it is accurate and he has a good release. Defensively he is very responsible and his two-way game is something I don’t think he gets enough credit for. 

Marner will need to bulk up but there’s nothing in his game that leads me to believe he won’t be an excellent NHL player.

From Bob McKenzie, TSN:

Marner has plenty of “wow factor” – a dynamic and creative offensive wizard who makes everyone on the ice better and has the ability to finish plays himself. But at 160 pounds and still under 6 feet, some wonder how well those skills will translate to the pro game. Some scouts cite former Knight Patrick Kane as a comparable, if only because they’re both undersized scoring wingers who played in London. Most scouts believe Marner has that special quality that will allow a 160-pounder to thrive and survive in the NHL game, but there’s still concern from some over his size.

From Dave Burstyn, McKeen’s Hockey:

A highly skilled and intuitive offensive player whose game reading ability is off the charts – able to dance all over the ice and make plays both forward and backhand .. attacks the middle of the ice and is not afraid to go into danger zones .. deploys a hair-trigger release and finding optimum scoring chances .. elusive in his approach as he spins off guys and simply anticipates the game better than his peers .. displays an uncanny ability to create even more room for himself when he is down low; habitually finds the best possible passing or shooting option

From Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting:

High end skill set with puck handling and playmaking ability. Plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to get involved in traffic or battle for pucks. He is an excellent skater with very good quickness and agility. He possesses some of the quickest hands in this year’s draft class.

Our Take:

In 2013-14, Marner posted an impressive 59 points in 63 games during his rookie season, playing in a 2nd line-center role. However, with Bo Horvat graduating to the NHL, Marner was able to slot in at 1st line-center role, alongside Arizona’s prized prospect, Max Domi. The results were sensational, as both players saw they’re production explode this year. Domi improved from 1.52 points per game last year to 1.79 point-per-game this year, while Marner’s production improved from 0.93 points-per-game to 2.0 points-per-game this year.

Overall, the Knights were the 4th best offensive team in the OHL this year, posting an impressive 4.25 goals-per-game. This is important context to keep in mind for a player like Marner, as offensive production for teams can vary wildly, with the lowest scoring team, the woeful Sudbury Wolves, only managing a meager 2.2 goals-per-game. The Knights power play in particular was extremely dangerous this year, with Marner collecting 64 points on the power play, more than both Strome (50 points) and McDavid (48 points). 

Overall, Marner has clearly benefited from having one of the best players in the OHL as his linemate, but his vision and play-making abilities are off the charts. While his size is a concern, especially if he plans on playing center in the NHL, in terms of elite offensive talent, few in this draft come close to what Marner brings to the table. 

Any player posting two points per game in his draft year is astounding, and this is reflected by Marner’s PCS numbers. On average, PCS gives Marner high-end first line upside, and compares him favourably with Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. Adjusting for age and era puts Marner behind only Sidney Crosby (and Connor McDavid) in draft year scoring since 2003, so his production is nothing short of elite and potential NHL superstar level.

If not for the fact that this draft contains two potentially generational talents in Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, we’d be spending a lot more time talking about who among Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner, and Dylan Stome would be going 1st overall, which wouldn’t be a bad draft at all. As it stands, one of Arizona, Toronto, or Carolina will be lucky to have Marner fall into their lap, and it looks like they’ll be getting one hell of a player.