The Forgotten Maple Leaf
Everyone who claims to be a hockey fan knows just how many young stars there are in today's game. Conor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Jack Eichel are just a few of those stars. However, there is a star brewing in Toronto, Ontario that spends his time lurking in those aforementioned shadows just doing his thing. The 20-year old Markham, Ontario native was drafted in the 2015 NHL at fourth overall behind McDavid, Eichel, and Dylan Strome of the Arizona Coyotes.
While McDaivd has had a stellar career thus far, you could make the case that Marner has been the second best performer out of the top 4 picks of that draft. Eichel has 113 points in 142 games for the Sabres this past season. Marner who was called up from the Leafs farm season this year had 61 points in 77 games. Sure the stats line up with Eichel, but Marner has undoubtedly held his own. 61 points as a rookie is almost unheard of. For example in Eichel's rookie season he totaled 56 points in 81 games, Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers had 39 points in 81 games, and his teammate Sam Reinhart had 42 points in 79 games during his rookie season. The stats are there, all Marner is lacking is the hype that some of the superstars in the league get. Sure he came around when the sport is loaded with young talent on nearly every team; but I for one feel it's time that Marner got appreciated for what he is and what will continue to be. An All-Star with the ability to be a top ten player in the league.
With all of the above being said, it is undoubtedly true that Marner will remain in the shadow of superstar teammate Auston Matthews. Matthews who was a extremely hyped American born product deserves every bit of spotlight he gets, he has to know just how lucky he is to have another extremely young star around him to take some of the pressure off.
Toronto is a blue blood hockeytown. Sure they have the Raptors, and the Blue Jays, but at the end of the day hockey is king! I for one cannot wait to see Marner's star grow in a city that needs multiple hockey stars in order to survive. I hope you can enjoy watching his career as much as I will.