2015 NHL Draft Prospect Profile – Mitchell Marner
Mitchell Marner wasn’t always considered at top prospect, at least in the eyes of some scouts. During his minor midget season with the Don Mills Flyers of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, Marner’s skill was never debated, it was his size that threw some scouts for a loop. Standing just 5’7 and weighing a slight 130 pounds, scouts questioned if he would grow or if he could handle the rigors of the junior hockey circuit if he didn’t grow. Blessed with tremendous offensive skill, Marner played for a middle of the pack Flyers squad, who really went in the direction Marner took them. Marner scored numerous highlight reel goals as a minor midget hockey player, a player who could always create his own offense, Marner excelled more as a creative puck handler and distributor than as a speedy centre who could beat opponents with his skating ability. Marner was known as more of a dangler then a shooter during his minor midget season where he posted a ridiculous 41 goals and 45 assists for 86 points in 53 games. He still possesses those same dynamic hands, however he’s learned to pull the trigger more when in prime scoring areas. Marner also was able to suite up for the St. Mikes Buzzers of the OJHL as call-up, during his OHL Draft year. Marner saw 6 games of regular season action with the Buzzers, and then another 14 games of playoff action with the Buzzers, who eventually went on to capture the OJHL title as league champions.
The London Knights made Marner their surprising 1st round pick, 19th overall in the 2013 OHL draft. It was a surprising pick for a few reasons, Marner had a firm scholarship offer from the University of Michigan and seemed destined to become a Wolverine. The second reason, was his size, or for lack of a better term, his lack of size. But as it turns out Marner’s size has never been an issue, and while its hard to call first round picks “steals”, Marner is looking like one of the big steals from the 2013 OHL draft.In Marner’s rookie season with the Knight’s it didn’t take long for him to establish that his size would not be an issue at the OHL level, as he recorded 5 points in his first 3 OHL games, and was playing at just barely under a point per game pace throughout the first two months of the season. Marner was also selected to represent Team Ontario at the World Under 17 Championships, where he thrived against competition of his own age, recording 6 goals & 3 assists for 9 points in just 5 games, although Team Ontario didn’t no medal in the competition. Marner ended his rookie regular season with the London Knights with a total of 13 goals & 46 assists for 59 points in 64 games. Marner again proved up to the challenge come playoff time, as he was a point per game player for the Knights during their brief 9 game playoff run, scoring 3 goals & 6 assists for 9 points. With London hosting the Memorial Cup, Marner would see action on the biggest stage in junior hockey as a 17 year old rookie. While London was bounced from the tournament after just the minimum 3 round robin games, Marner showed he could compete against the very best in junior hockey. While he recorded just 1 assist in the 3 games, he was one of the Knights most consistent forwards on a nightly bases.
Marner is considered one of the most offensively gifted players in the 2015 NHL draft, blessed with quick hands, extremely good puck handling ability and above average vision, Marner is one of the most dynamic and creative offensive threats available in this years draft. While he’s not blessed with explosive speed, Marner has excellent mobility, lateral agility and works his edges very well, he can basically dance on skates as one scout put it. While known as nifty puck handler who likes to get in tight to score, Marner is also blessed with a great shot, not only does he have a lightning quick release, his shot is placed well and very accurate. With added strength his shot should only become tougher for goaltenders to handle. Marner has the uncanny ability to make players around him better, his excellent on ice awareness, vision and creativity are second to none in is this draft. While Marner could stand to add some strength to his core, he has grown from that 5’7, 130 pound frame he carried around as a minor midget AAA prospect. Marner now stands just barely under 6 foot an weighs around 170 pounds. While his offensive abilities are some of the best in the draft, Marner does need to pay more attention to detail in his defensive zone. He tends to puck watch or in some cases chase the puck/ puck carrier, while its more of a case of him wanting the puck on his stick, overplaying his position and playing lose on his defensive zone coverage sometimes gets the Knights running around defensively. Defensive zone lapses can be corrected and is not a huge fault to his game, should Marner continue to grow and add weight to his frame and improve his defensive zone play, he could arguably be one of the best prospects selected in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Marner is currently listed in the top ten in nearly every version of the 2015 NHL draft rankings. McKeen’s hockey has Marner listed as their #6 skater, ISS Hockey has Marner as their #10 skater, Future Considerations has Marner as their 9th rated skater, and TSN’s Craig Button has Marner listed has his 5th rated skater in his November rankings. It would be absolutely shocking to see Marner fall out of the top 10 of this years NHL entry draft. If he continues the torrent pace he’s on (32 Points in 12 Games in November), Marner could easily become a consensus top 5 pick in the 2015 Draft.
Written by: Mike Mackley