If all the talk about the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs isn’t already pushing the club’s fans to the edge of their seats, watching these young players develop could create an even bigger stir within Leafs Nation.
While it was cut short, William Nylander’s performance at the World Juniors was impressive. When he went down, Dmytro Timashov helped Sweden. And while Canada didn’t do what so many expected them to at the tournament, London Knights’ Mitch Marner had quite the performance in a 6-5 quarterfinal loss to the host Finns.
Now, the NHL has become a place where smaller talented players can dominate the game. Look at guys like Patrick Kane and even Max Domi in Arizona. Now, Marner is the focus of the future for the Leafs and their fans.
He measures at 5’11” and weighs in at 164 pounds. Not very big for an NHL forward. But that’s what people said about Theoren Fleury. And there were whispers about the size of Domi and other players of their stature.
But when players have to pure ability – the hockey knowledge – like Marner’s displayed in London heads turn and eyes focus in on the talent of future NHLers like Marner. With the OHL’s Knights, Marner’s notched 86 points (32g-54a) in just 41 games this season. Over his career with the Dale Hunter coached team he’s put up an impressive 271 points (89g-182a) in just 168 regular season games over three seasons.
That being said, of those 89 career goals, my bet is we’d be hard-pressed to find one of this calibre. On Friday night, down 1-0 to the Niagara IceDogs, Marner simply undressed Niagara’s defence before notching one of the best hockey goals of the season.
Get excited Maple Leafs fans, Marner is just one of the bright stars in your team’s talented future.
For more, you can follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.
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.