An article written yesterday by Scott Maxwell of the Daily Faceoff named the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner as the NHL’s third-best right-winger. That’s a status that is not difficult to support. In fact, after last season, Marner was named to the NHL’s first all-star team.
However, a number of Maple Leafs’ fans disagree that Marner is that valuable to the team. In an article I wrote yesterday for The Hockey Writers, at the bottom of that “page” fans spent considerable time critiquing Marner’s play in the conversation section of that article.
Related: Revisiting Maple Leafs & Marner’s 2019 Contract Negotiations
Perhaps My Post Invited Maple Leafs’ Reader Responses
To be fair, the article might have generated some pushback. I had taken advantage of the Christmas break without NHL games to revisit Marner’s 2019 contract negotiations. At the time of these negotiations, Marner had been vilified by a number of fans and pundits alike for his (and his agent Darren Farris’) negotiating tactics). [I admit I didn’t like it at all then and still don’t.]
In light of Marner’s recent 23-game consecutive game, which I thought had mediated some of the resentment, I produced yesterday’s article.
Although there was support from some readers that Marner’s status had been rehabilitated, that was less true from the majority of the readers. Many still had a bad on for Marner.
What Did Maple Leafs’ Fans Say About Marner?
In the space below, I have summarized a number of points that readers made. I will engage them in no specific order.
[As a note, I have not asked permission to include readers’ handles in the conversation. Nor have I quoted their words or ideas. These are summaries. However, I do attribute these notes to their insights and thank them for their contributions to my own thinking. If anyone wishes to see the points specifically, follow the link above to read them within the context of yesterday’s article.]
Reason One: Marner Makes Too Much Money
One reader commented that (as wingers go) Marner’s contract ($10.903 million) is only behind Artemi Panarin’s ($11,642,857) in terms of its salary-cap hit. But the reader also noted that Panarin’s contract goes a year longer. The reader pointed out that Marner’s cap hit surpasses players like Nikita Kucherov, Kirill Kaprizov, Steven Stamkos, David Pastrnak, and Matthew Tkachuk.
A second reader also noted that Marner was overpaid when compared with players like Pastrnak and Mikko Rantanen. The reader pointed out that these players were just as valuable but cost millions of dollars less each season.
One reader then noted that, in comparison to William Nylander’s salary-cap hit, Marner’s was $4 million more. In other words, Nylander’s contract was significantly more valuable than Marner’s.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 4-3 Win Over Flyers
Reason Two: Marner’s Playoff Performance Was Poor
One reader noted that Marner’s playoff performance was not up to par. The reader noted that the Maple Leafs in general had underperformed during the playoffs. However, the reader noted that Marner performed far worse during the postseason than during the regular season.
The reader believed many other fans thought Marner’s play showed that he lacks the grit needed to perform during the far more physical postseason than the regular season.
Reason Three: Marner Is Far From the Best Player on His Own Team
One reader noted that Marner was not even among the best skaters, stick handlers, or shooters on his own team. The reader believed Marner’s teammates routinely made the same plays Marner receives accolades and credit for making.
One reader added that any credit Marner got for his play on the penalty kill was ill-founded. Instead, the improvement on the penalty kill should go to David Kampf. That reader noted that the team’s penalty kill was not ranked very high until Kampf’s arrival.
Reason Four: Marner Makes Too Many Turnovers
One reader noted that Marner gives the puck away too often. In fact, the reader believed his giveaways were among the worst in the league for forwards. That’s because, as the reader noted, Marner has a tendency to lob the puck toward the net hoping a teammate will make a good play or the opposing team will be caught off guard. That this sometimes happens depends upon the skill of his teammates.
Reason Five: Marner Has Gone Too Many Games Without a Power-Play Goal
One reader noted that Marner had gone 100 games without a power-play goal. That was followed by a similar 34-game power-play goal-less streak. That reader also agreed that Marner had not helped the penalty-kill unit.
Finally, the reader pointed out the team’s five overtime losses this season.
What’s the Bottom Line?
The bottom line is that, while Marner has grown as a player and is widely recognized by those around the NHL as a solid NHL performer and an on-ice leader, many Maple Leafs’ fans disagree. Whether this is a leftover from his contract negotiations is unknown, and it might not make any difference.
Perhaps none of this matters to anyone within the Maple Leafs’ organization, not even Marner himself. But it remains interesting that some fans don’t value all of their own players. I admit that it took a while for me to appreciate Marner as much as I do currently. I do agree that he’s overcompensated financially.
Perhaps at this point the final redemption of Marner; and, in fact, the entire Maple Leafs’ team, would be in a Stanley Cup win.
Related: HOW HAS EX-MAPLE LEAFS ILYA MIKHEYEV DONE WITH THE CANUCKS?