Three games into the OHL’s Western Conference Finals, Mitch Marner and the London Knights are three games up on the Erie Otters and dominating on the scoreboard. The Knights have outscored Erie 18-6 in three games and have nearly doubled their opponents scoring in the playoffs 62-32 so far.
Marner, along with his mates on London’s top line, leads the Knights in scoring this playoffs with the Leafs’ prospect having recorded 35 points (14g-21a) in just 13 games so far for London.
Now, that’s not to take away from Matthew Tkachuk’s 31 points or Christian Dvorak’s 23 points in the same time frame. But Marner’s point total in his 13 games could be McDavid-like – or even Papineau-like.
Wait. What? Who? I know. I felt the same way when I first saw the statistical breakdown, but could the Leafs’ first-round pick from last year’s draft really be on the verge of breaking an OHL playoff record?
Breaking Down the Numbers
Seventeen years ago, former Belleville Bulls’ forward Justin Papineau scored 51 points in 21 games helping the Bulls to the J. Ross Robertson Cup. His point-per-game average was 2.43 and he dominated the play to reach that milestone.
That record has stood for seventeen years. It was almost broken last season when McDavid scored 49 points in 20 games – averaging 2.45 points per game – but coming up just one game or two points shy of Papineau’s record. Erie ultimately lost to Oshawa in the OHL Finals last season and McDavid chance to break the record was lost.
Enter Marner. The Knights’ forward currently sits at 35 points in 13 games. That’s an average of 2.69 points per game so far. Assuming he maintains this pace and they only play five more games (one more to defeat Erie and four to sweep the OHL Championship series), and Marner will finish the playoffs with 48 points.
That being said, the Knights likely won’t sweep the OHL Finals and with the addition of Max Jones coming in the championship series, Marner will not only have another target to rack up some assists, but Jones will also open up the ice to give Marner more space to work with.
Mitch Marner is up to 35 points in 13 playoff games this spring.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 27, 2016
Nothing To It
For Marner, it’s simply not the focus. Sure, the individual feats are a bonus, but he’s just hoping to help his club in any way that he knows how.
“I’m just trying to play my game,” said Marner in a post-game press conference following Game 3 on Tuesday. “I want to play a strong defensive game and when you get the pucks out, you know, it’s a little bit easier obviously to get into their zone and get time in their zone. So I think it starts in our defensive end.”
When asked about his offensive output so far, Marner remained modest while giving credit to his line mates and their ability to move the puck and open up the game.
He had just four shots and took full advantage of his opportunities in Game 3. While the record may be right around the corner for the young forward, the goal is simple. He wants to help his teammates move onto the OHL Championship series and follow that up with a trip to the Memorial Cup.
As for the record? Well, that’s just a secondary thought for the 18-year-old.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.