Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are elite offensive prospects that are almost assuredly going to be taken first and second overall, respectively.
Who could be the most skilled forward beyond that? Look no further than Mitch Marner.
Marner, an Ontario-born, right-shooting center, possesses dynamic offensive talents. In the 2014-15 season, he recorded 126 points (44g, 82a) in 63 games with the London Knights. He reached the 40-goal mark in just 56 games played, the quickest any 17-year-old Knight has been able to do so. His 126 points ranked second-best in the OHL behind Dylan Strome – and only because Strome had a ridiculous six-point effort (4g, 2a) in Erie’s regular-season finale.
Marner continued to score at a torrid rate in the postseason, notching nine goals and seven assists (16 points) in just seven games.
|HOMETOWN: THORNHILL, ONT. |
|HEIGHT: 5'11" |
|WEIGHT: 160 |
|BIRTHDAY: MAY 5, 1997 (AGE 18) |
“He was kind of the engine that drove their team, really,” said Canes Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald. “Once you get past McDavid and Eichel, If you’re looking for skill and a guy that can generate offense, finish and create plays, he’s your man.”
You can critique Marner’s size – he’s 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds – but he’ll fill out, and size isn’t hindering his natural offensive prowess, which is among the best this draft class has to offer.
“We call him small because he’s 160 pounds, but he’s going to get a little heavier and a little stronger,” MacDonald said. “He’ll fill out somewhat, and he’ll end up being a 5-11, 180-pound guy who relies on skill, speed, quickness and smarts.”
And he has those qualities in spades, part of the reason why the NHL’s Central Scouting Service has him ranked sixth overall among North American skaters, and part of the reason why Marner could very likely be a top-five pick.
Marner, now 18, draws comparisons to Patrick Kane for obvious reasons: Kane has a very similar build and also was a London Knight who put up a boatload of points – 145 (62g, 83a) in 58 games.
“There is some validity to that (comparison),” MacDonald said. “He’s a slippery, elusive guy. He has great hockey sense.”
Even with his prolific production, Marner is not a defensive liability. MacDonald noted that the Canadian forward knows how to effectively play in all three zones and competes hard each and every night.
“If you’re looking for a guy with skill and character, a guy who can contribute to the offense and play a 200-foot game, he’s your guy,” MacDonald said.