FanPost

Checking In On The Kids: Mitch Marner

I got you Mike. I'll keep you safe. - Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We're about two-thirds of the way through the CHL season, so what better time is there to check in on the Leafs' picks from the 2015 entry draft? Sure, it would probably make more sense to do this after the season is done and we have a more complete picture to go on, but I don't feel like waiting that long, so here we are.

If you've been following elseldo's weekly prospect recaps (and you should be) then you already have a decent sense of how all these guys are doing. The idea of these posts is to take a slightly more in-depth look at the players' rates of production and where they stand in relation to their peers. There isn't much in the way of fancy stats available for junior leagues (or if there is, I don't know about it) so I'll be focusing almost entirely on scoring rates.

Disclaimer: I try to keep up with the goings-on in the analytics community, but I am not a statistician, nor even a "stats guy." I am also not a scout. Mostly I was just curious to see how well our prospects are faring, so I collected a bunch of data which I am now sharing with you. Please feel free to let me know if I screw something up.

The plan is to do a post for each player selected by the Leafs in the 2015 draft, although I reserve the right to quit if I get bored (looking at you, Stephen Desrocher). This week I'll be looking at the Leafs' first-round pick, Mitch Marner of the London Knights.

Marner was ranked #5 on PPP's "Top 25 Under 25" list, and if you've been following his season at all, you know that he's doing quite well in the OHL. But how well is he doing compared to other top OHL prospects? Let's find out!

Note: I originally planned to post this yesterday but didn't get it done in time. Stats include OHL games played on Sat. Jan. 16, but not games played on Sun. Jan. 17.

Mitch Marner vs History!

To get an idea of how Marner stacks up against past OHL prospects I took a look at the previous six OHL seasons, 2009-10 through 2014-15 (if you're wondering why I didn't use a more round number, I originally just did five seasons, and then added an extra bonus season on a lark. You're welcome.). I compiled a list of every player who finished the season with a Points Per Game rate of 1.3 or higher (sorry, 2014-15 Nick Ritchie) and played at least 25 games (sorry, 2014-15 Sam Bennett). To get a better comparison with Marner's current season, I will only be looking at draft+1 seasons (the season following the NHL draft for which the player was first eligible, regardless of whether or not he was drafted).

Here's where Marner's scoring pace fits in with the fifteen best draft+1 seasons from the previous six seasons:

Name

Season

GP

G

A

P

P/GP

Mitchell Marner

2015

30

25

39

64

2.13

Alex Galchenyuk

2012

33

27

34

61

1.85

Brandon Saad

2011

44

34

42

76

1.73

Joey Hishon

2010

50

37

49

86

1.72

Robby Fabbri

2014

30

25

26

51

1.7

Michael Dal Colle

2014

56

42

51

93

1.66

Nazem Kadri

2009

56

35

58

93

1.66

Christian Dvorak

2014

66

41

68

109

1.65

Tyler Toffoli

2010

68

57

51

108

1.59

Shane Prince

2011

57

43

47

90

1.58

Kevin Lablanc

2014

68

31

76

107

1.57

Kerby Rychel

2013

58

34

55

89

1.53

André Burakovsky

2013

57

41

46

87

1.53

Andrew Mangiapane

2014

68

43

61

104

1.53

Max Domi

2013

61

34

59

93

1.52

Taylor Beck

2009

61

39

54

93

1.52

Stats in this table are from eliteprospects.com

That's a pretty strong list of players, and Marner is currently making them look like stupid babies (who, as we all know, need the most attention). Other notable players whose draft+1 seasons Marner is outpacing include Ryan Strome (1.48 P/GP), Bo Horvat (1.37 P/GP), Joshua Ho-Sang (1.35 P/GP), and Mark Scheifele (1.34 P/GP).

So if no one's draft+1 season since 2009-10 has compared to Marner's, how far back do we have to go to find one that does? Pretty far, it turns out. Jason Spezza managed 1.98 P/GP in 2001-02, but that's still not quite up to Marner's current pace. Current Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe had a pretty good draft+1 year back in 1999-00, but still only managed 1.83 P/GP; Marc Savard did slightly better in 1995-96 with 1.85 P/GP. That's good, but it's not quite Marner-good.

To find a comparable draft+1 season to Marner's, we have to go all the way back to 1994-95, when Maple Leafs legend Jeff O'Neill finished with 2.18 P/GP in his draft+1 season, which also happened to be Marner's birth-2 season. To reiterate, the last time someone put up draft+1 numbers as good as Marner's in the OHL, Mitch Marner was still 2 years away from being born.

If we expand our scope a bit, we can find a more recent player who put up numbers similar to Marner's: Jonathan Drouin in the QMJHL. Comparing scoring numbers between the two leagues isn't perfect, but given the similarities between the two players I thought it would be fun to take a look anyway (and it was, because I have a weird idea of what constitutes "fun"):


Draft year

Draft pos.

Draft Year P/GP

Draft+1 P/GP

Draft Year NHLe

Draft+1 NHLe

Drouin

2013

3rd overall

2.14

2.35

45.69

50.06

Marner

2015

4th overall

2

2.13

52.48

55.98

Drouin beats Marner in pure scoring pace, however when we use NHLe to normalize the results (using this calculator), Marner comes out on top. Attaboy, Mitch! Now let's keep him far away from Jon Cooper forever.

Mitch Marner vs The Present!

Now that we've established that he's outpacing every draft+1 season in the OHL from the past 20 seasons, let's take a look at how thoroughly Marner is outpacing his peers (with at least 15 games played) from the 2015 draft class in the OHL:

Name

Age

GP

G

1A

2A

P

Shots

Sh %

P/GP

Mitchell Marner

18.364

30

25

28

11

64

132

18.939

2.133

Dylan Strome

18.526

30

21

25

18

64

139

15.108

2.133

Travis Konecny

18.515

34

10

28

14

52

120

8.333

1.529

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

28

13

19

8

40

72

18.056

1.429

Christian Fischer

18.419

40

21

21

12

54

150

14

1.35

Pavel Zacha

18.444

28

19

12

6

37

98

19.388

1.321

Dante Salituro

18.833

41

23

15

15

53

161

14.286

1.293

Julius Nattinen

18.668

28

11

17

6

34

52

21.154

1.214

Lawson Crouse

18.23

24

10

12

5

27

108

9.259

1.125

Blake Speers

18.701

42

12

16

15

43

125

9.6

1.024

All stats in this section are from prospect-stats.com

Goddammit, Dylan Strome!

Yes, 2015 3rd overall pick Dylan "George Stromeboulopoulos" Strome is currently ruining everything by matching Marner's pace exactly, meaning that the two best OHL draft+1 seasons in the past 20 years are happening simultaneously. Strome and Marner are a clear cut above their peers, with a 0.604 P/GP drop between Marner and Travis Konecny.

Fortunately for the Mitch Marner Booster Association (president: me; currently accepting nominations for VP), secondary assists are not held in very high esteem these days, with primary points (goals + primary assists) being regarded as a better indicator of future success than total points. In primary points per game, Marner gains the edge over Strome:

Name

Age

GP

G

1A

Primary P

Prim. P/GP

Mitchell Marner

18.364

30

25

28

53

1.767

Dylan Strome

18.526

30

21

25

46

1.533

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

28

13

19

32

1.143

Travis Konecny

18.515

34

10

28

38

1.118

Pavel Zacha

18.444

28

19

12

31

1.107

Christian Fischer

18.419

40

21

21

42

1.05

Julius Nattinen

18.668

28

11

17

28

1

Dante Salituro

18.833

41

23

15

38

0.927

Lawson Crouse

18.23

24

10

12

22

0.917

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

41

28

7

35

0.854

For the sake of completeness, let's go one step further and only look at even strength primary points. Marner leads his peers with 26 primary powerplay points (Dante Salituro of the Ottawa 67's is second with 18), and is tied for the lead in shorthanded primary points with 5 (Brett McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords the North Bay Battalion also has 5), so it's not surprising that limiting our scope to even strength hurts his standing a bit:

Name

Age

GP

ES G

ES 1A

ES 2A

ES Prim. P

ES P

ES Prim. P/GP

Dylan Strome

18.526

30

16

14

10

30

40

1

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

28

12

12

4

24

28

0.857

Travis Konecny

18.515

34

9

19

10

28

38

0.824

Mitchell Marner

18.364

30

10

12

7

22

29

0.733

Christian Fischer

18.419

40

16

13

6

29

35

0.725

Pavel Zacha

18.444

28

12

7

2

19

21

0.679

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

42

18

10

3

28

31

0.667

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

41

21

6

3

27

30

0.659

Lawson Crouse

18.23

24

4

11

3

15

18

0.625

Artem Artemov

18.66

41

10

15

5

25

30

0.61

While this may seem like cause for some concern, prospect-stats.com lists Marner's estimated even strength time on ice per game at 15.583 minutes, good for 12th among forwards in his draft class in the OHL. Strome, for comparison, is at the top of the list with an estimated 22.025 minutes of even strength time on ice per game. Marner's relatively low ES TOI makes sense, as the London Knights spend a whole lot of time on special teams. So far this season they've had 207 power plays (most in the league) and been shorthanded 202 times (second most), and Marner plays a key role in both situations.

UPDATED TO ADD: Here are the top 10 players in the 2015 draft class for estimated even strength primary points per 60 minutes:

Name

Age

GP

ES G

ES 1A

ES 2A

ES Prim. P

ES P

ES eTOI

ES ePrim. P/60

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

28

12

12

4

24

28

16.565

3.105

Travis Konecny

18.515

35

10

20

10

30

40

17.479

2.942

Mitchell Marner

18.364

30

10

12

7

22

29

15.583

2.824

Dylan Strome

18.526

31

16

15

10

31

41

21.829

2.749

Christian Fischer

18.419

41

16

13

6

29

35

15.622

2.717

Pavel Zacha

18.444

29

12

7

2

19

21

15.013

2.618

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

43

18

10

3

28

31

15.234

2.565

Artem Artemov

18.66

42

10

16

5

26

31

14.955

2.484

Kole Sherwood

18.647

39

10

11

7

21

28

13.745

2.35

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

41

21

6

3

27

30

17.162

2.302

Boy, some team is going to be pretty happy to have that Bracco kid...

(Thanks to MaxPower417 for suggesting I add this! Since this chart was added on Monday afternoon, the stats include OHL games from Sunday, unlike the rest of the charts in this article.)

Mitch Marner vs The Future!

Mitch has been in a bit of a scoring slump since the World Juniors with a paltry 6 points in 5 January games, but I suspect we'll see him finish the season above 2 points per game. He's already probably too good for the OHL, so there won't be much to be gained by sending him back again next season. Unfortunately he won't be eligible to play in the AHL next season, so that pretty much leaves playing with the Leafs as the likely choice for Leafs management (unlikely choices include playing for a European pro team and taking a year off to catch up on some reading).

To temper expectations a bit, it's important to remember that having the best draft+1 season in 20-odd years does not make Marner the best OHL prospect in that time, since most top-end prospects spend their draft+1 season in the NHL. If guys like Tavares, Stamkos, Hall, and McDavid had spent their post-draft season back in junior, it's a pretty safe bet that their numbers would have been suitably bananas. So while Marner is most likely NHL-ready, we shouldn't expect Marner to make quite the same level of immediate impact as those guys did in their rookie seasons.

A Drouin-like rookie season may be a more reasonable expectation, although we can all hope that the coaching staff handles Marner's development a bit better. The best thing will be to let him play his game, even though he'll almost certainly make some costly mistakes. Unlike the Lightning in 2014-15, the Leafs will not have much in the way of playoff aspirations next season, so that should help Babcock & Co. to be more patient with Marner than Cooper was with Drouin.

If Marner were to join the NHL today he would be the 6th-lightest player in the league at 164 pounds, so putting on some weight should be a goal for the offseason. That said, I think some fans and writers are making too much of Marner's lack of size; he's only 13 pounds lighter than Patrick Kane, and that guy seems to be doing OK.

So concludes my look at Mitch Marner's season so far. Next up: Travis Konecny Dermott!

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