It felt like a match made in heaven.
The Leafs then-Assistant GM Mark Hunter walked up to the podium at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and clumsily said “I’m proud to announce, from the London Knights, Mitch Marner.”
To many the pick was no surprise, both due to Hunter’s familiarity with Marner from his time with the Knights, and also due to Marner being a kid from the Toronto area who grew up a Leafs fan. Marner had just finished toying with the Ontario Hockey League to the tune of 126 points in 63 games in the regular season, followed up by 16 points in 7 games in the playoffs. Those who watched the highlights from Marner’s draft and draft+1 year in the OHL saw a player with hockey IQ pouring out of his ears, who was clearly playing at a level far ahead of anyone else at his age.
Marner made the NHL as a 19-year-old, the same year 18-year-old Auston Matthews and 20-year-old William Nylander became full-time Leafs. That first year was magical: powered in huge part by their young stars, the Leafs went from last place overall the prior season to making the playoffs …
Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation