The London Knights have advanced to yet another OHL final after completing a sweep of the Erie Otters on Wednesday. Mitch Marner chipped in with an assist and an empty-net goal in the 5-1 victory.
The two-point effort was a rather pedestrian performance based on what we’ve come accustomed to seeing from Marner so far.
Yes, Marner, the prized prospect of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is having a playoff run for the ages.
Through three rounds, the 18-year-old forward has 37 points – a total that could be much higher if the Knights hadn’t been so dominant. Marner and his teammates have played just 14 games in knocking off three opponents and haven’t dropped a contest since the first round against Owen Sound.
As a result, Marner is averaging 2.6 points each game, an impressive mark in an era of elite coaching, defensive emphasis and usually impressive goaltending. Marner has been held pointless only once and has recorded two five-point games and three of the four-point variety. It’s also worth noting that Marner’s linemate Matthew Tkachuk, a likely top-five pick in the 2016 NHL draft, is right behind him with 33 points (2.4 per game).
Marner’s foray has him in the same conversation as Connor McDavid from a year ago.
McDavid had 42 points in 15 games through three OHL rounds last year (a 2.8 per-game average) and he wound up with 49 in 20 matches as the Otters lost the OHL final in five games to Oshawa. A long series in the OHL final against the Niagara IceDogs – who also swept their series Wednesday against Barrie – and Marner should be able to surpass McDavid, circa 2015. Heck, even producing at the same clip in a four- or five-game affair will put him right there.
It isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Marner to break the OHL mark, either. McDavid was on track to break the single-season playoff record of 51 points co-held by Belleville Bulls’ Justin Papineau in 1999 and Peterborough Petes’ Jason Dawe in 1993. Both appeared in 21 games.
McDavid tapered off in the final with seven points in five games. Again, Marner is going to have to be dominant or hope for a long series against Niagara and merely keep up his excellent pace to unseat Papineau and Dawe.
As for Marner’s chances of establishing a new CHL mark, well, that’s in the long-shot territory.
The QMJHL has long been the most offensive of the three CHL loops. That’s evident by the individual playoff scoring records.
Nine players in the history of the league have hit the 50-point mark in a playoff year. That list includes Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who had 51 for Gatineau in 2008; Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who had 52 for Laval in 1984; and the standard bearer Simon Gamache.
Gamache played a total of 48 NHL games for Nashville, St. Louis and Toronto and spent this season in Vienna. But back in 2001, he racked up 57 points in 21 games for the Val-d’Or Foreurs. A 20-point OHL championship series effort from Marner to tie Gamache would be epic.
On the WHL side of the ledger, Dale Derkatch – now a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs – holds the top spot after scoring 53 points as a member of the Regina Pats in 1984. Derkatch played 23 games to achieve his total.
Perhaps the most impressive playoff performance of all belongs to Kamloops Blazers’ Rob Brown.
Brown was the WHL scoring champion in 1985-86 with 173 points in 69 games and didn’t let up in the postseason. Brown earned 46 points as the Blazers won their second league title in three years.
Those 46 points leave Brown tied with Calgary Hitmen winger Pavel Brendl (1999) for second in WHL history. However, Brown accomplished the feat in just 16 games, meaning he registered 2.9 points per contest.
The way Marner’s been playing though, who’s to say he can’t eventually match Brown’s per-game prowess?
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