With Edmonton’s MacTavish implying they will be drafting McDavid with his, “offense wins games, and we’ll be loaded with that,” comment, instead of taking Hanifin since they need defense badly, Arizona will miss out on Jack Eichel, who will likely be taken by Buffalo. Due to that, I see Arizona picking Dylan Strome, where I see Hanifin dropping to 5th. Mitchell Marner, while projected as going 6th, I think will be taken by Toronto, so I decided to go ahead with an analysis of him before Lawson Crouse (who is 5th in the draft rankings).
I love Marner’s game. He does everything. He has tremendous speed, which he uses very effectively. It allows him to quickly skate down the ice and make very smart plays. His back checking is amazing, coming out of nowhere to break up plays take away the puck from behind. Marner always has his stick down, mirroring the puck defensively. His constant pressure on the puck carrier is impressive. At 5’11”, 163 lbs, he is not a very big guy (and will need to gain some weight), but he is physical, not afraid to throw what weight he has around, and gets in on the forecheck.
Offensively, he is a tremendous passer, and his ability to spring teammates and make cross-ice passes is outstanding. He has very good puck-handling skills and doesn’t turn it over much. He is also excellent at keeping pucks alive in the offensive zone, a very useful tool to have and something I like to see in a player. It is one of the things that I loved about Joni Pitkanen’s game. It definitely helps during crucial times in the games and on the power-play. The one example I always think of is when Pitkanen kept the play alive that led to Jussi Jokinen’s game winner over New Jersey with .2 seconds remaining in game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoff first round series. Getting back on topic, though, Marner also gets to the front of the net, but that will be harder to do in the NHL at his size. Still, I like to see that hunger. He also has a nice shot and a good ability to score.
He is going to be a great player in the league, and I think 4th-7th is a good range for him. He’ll fit with a team who already has size to their lineup and is looking for speed, like Toronto, but not for a team needing size, such as Carolina.