How do you pick?
After selections one and two, there was a case to be made for a lot of talented prospects. In the end, Maple Leafs Co-Interim GM Mark Hunter took the podium and selected a player he’s all to familiar with in London Knights forward Mitch Marner.
“When the Leafs got up there picking, my heart started beating, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said the product of Thornhill, Ontario. “I think when Mark (Hunter) went to the mic I had a little understanding of what was going to happen. It’s an exciting time.”
Hunter didn’t give Marner an indication he was going to go with a prospect he knew when he was General Manager in London. While many will say that the Leafs could have picked another highly touted prospect, Hunter felt it was good go with what was a winning tandem.
“He picked me when I was 5’5” 120lbs in the OHL draft and he had no doubt in me there and it looks like he has no doubt now.”
Marner will be given a chance to succeed and get a bit of a look during the Leafs rookie and training camps. While the Leafs are going for the long game, Marner’s hope is that he can show enough to make it with the club this fall.
“That’s the goal for me, I want to play. If I don’t play, I have a great organization to go back to, it’s all up to them.”
Marner enjoys a challenge. While proving doubters wrong during his time in London, he also doesn’t mind being put of his comfort zone. The Leafs new Head Coach will certainly test him.
“He’s a great coach, he’s hard on his players and that’s how I want a coach to be,” said Marner of Mike Babcock. “I want him to be hard and I want him to make me learn something new every practice and that’s something I’m willing to do.”
Marner will focus on adding more strength and size during the off-season. Being selected by the Leafs presents an opportunity to play in his hometown.
“I’m excited, it’s a great up and coming team. We have the best fans behind us. I think the building is always bumpin’. It’s a great place to play in and I can’t wait to step in there.”
The Leafs started with two first round picks. Instead, they were busy adding some depth by grabbing more players. First they swung a deal with Philadelphia for their 29th and 61st picks.
They later swapped the 29th pick they acquired and flipped it for the 34th and 68th picks. It added two more bodies to the total number of selections they are likely to make on day two of the draft.
When Mike Babcock came to Toronto, he wanted to get stocked with as many prospects as possible. The Leafs began that with the fourth overall selection and the loading up on second and third round picks.