Mitch Marner: Predicting NHL Success Based Off CHL MVP Season

As the Toronto Maple Leafs shift their focus to the 2016-17 season a bulk of the discussion will be whether 2015 1st round selection Mitch Marner is ready to take the next step and join the Leafs, rather than play another in junior, where he has nothing left to prove after winning every MVP trophy awarded throughout the OHL and CHL, as well as the Memorial Cup Championship. Another part of that discussion involves Marner’s longterm success in the NHL and how the numbers he scored in junior will translate to the pro level. I looked back at the last eleven CHL MVPs, their points per game and playoff points game in the year they won to try and find a correlation between being named CHL MVP and having longterm NHL success. Here is what I found:

 Year Player CHL PPG
(in final season)
CHL Playoff PPG
(in final season)
NHL GP NHL PPG
2005 Sidney Crosby 2.7 2.38 707 1.32
2006 Alexander Radulov 2.45 2.39 154 0.66
2007 John Tavares 1.79 1.5 510 0.92
2008 Justin Azevedo 1.85 1.8 0 0
2009 Cody Hodgson 1.73 1.47 289 0.46
2010 Jordan Eberle  1.85  0  425  0.77
2011 Ryan Ellis 1.05 1.05 281 0.36
2012 Brendan Shinnimin 1.94 1.53 12 0.08
2013 Jonathan Drouin 2.34 2.56 91 0.46
2014 Anthony Mantha 2.1 1.58 10 0.3
2015 Connor McDavid 2.55 2.45 45 1.06
2016 Mitch Marner 2.03 2.44 229* 0.58*

* average totals among all players

While scoring over 2 points per game proves a player is too good for junior hockey, taking the next step can be tricky. Marner in his CHL MVP season outscored current NHL stars in their CHL MVP-final junior season such as John Tavares and Jordan Eberle. Marner picked up his scoring pace in the playoffs, a sign that when the competition increases and the stakes are higher he is able to elevate his game. However, the problem with calculating the next step is in the last few years, players haven’t reached their full potential yet. Only now are we seeing the talent Jonathan Drouin has at the pro level. Anthony Mantha still has question marks surrounding him. And as good as Connor McDavid’s injury-shortened rookie season was, he still only has one [half] year of experience and thus the numbers will reflect that. What is concerning is that five of the eleven players (including Mantha, excluding Drouin) listed are not true NHL success stories. Perhaps a chart that lists CHL MVPs plus another league MVP (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) is more accurate in determining a star NHL player. Unfortunately, after looking back at both past league MVP and past Memorial Cup MVP the results still included players such as Radulov and Azevedo, as their junior careers were that spectacular.

Assuming it takes three to five years for the average prospect to properly adjust from junior to pro, and have numbers that properly reflect his career, I recalculated the averages and stopped at 2011, to see if the games played and points per game would appear more accurate for a player of his calibre. The results below indicate what Marner’s career might look like after 7 NHL seasons. Here is what I found:

 Year Player CHL PPG
(in final season)
CHL Playoff PPG
(in final season)
NHL GP NHL PPG
2005 Sidney Crosby 2.7 2.38 707 1.32
2006 Alexander Radulov 2.45 2.39 154 0.66
2007 John Tavares 1.79 1.5 510 0.92
2008 Justin Azevedo 1.85 1.8 0 0
2009 Cody Hodgson 1.73 1.47 289 0.46
2010 Jordan Eberle  1.85  0  425  0.77
2011 Ryan Ellis 1.05 1.05 281 0.36
2016 Mitch Marner 2.03 2.44 338* 0.64*
* average totals among all players

After looking at the results, I still wasn’t satisfied. Most players seven years into their career play a lot more than just 338 games and the zero points per game of Justin Azevedo drastically brings down Marner’s projected totals. Since I’m going to assume that Marner makes the NHL at some point in his career, I’m instead going to calculate again, including an average of 2012-2014 (Shinnimin, Drouin and Mantha) to factor a slow start to his first few years in the league instead of Azevedo’s gaping zero career games played and zero career points. This will provide a more accurate number, since Marner is almost certainly going to play at least some games in the NHL.

 Year Player CHL PPG
(in final season)
CHL Playoff PPG
(in final season)
NHL GP NHL PPG
2016 Mitch Marner 2.03 2.44 375* 0.68*

It isn’t perfect but it’s much more believable that Marner will play in 375 games after 7 seasons and score at a 0.68 rate, good for 255 career NHL points. Since this was calculated for Marner’s seventh season in the league, the current players to compare him to would be from the 2009 draft, who also just completed their seventh season. Here is how the London Knights star forward stacked up:

Player NHL GP NHL Pts
John Tavares 510 471
Matt Duchene 495  377
Ryan O’Reilly 498 306
Evander Kane 426 257
Mitch Marner 375* 255*
Marcus Johansson 419 232

Based off my loose calculations, Marner will outscore the likes of Nazem Kadri and Marcus Johansson’s current point totals and will just miss Evander Kane’s career totals set in year 7 in the league.

Since these are only loose calculations, there are a lot of other factors that have played into a potentially decreased (or increased) point and scoring totals. A lot will depend on when Marner joins the Leafs in a regular role, which line he plays on, which linemates he plays with, how much special teams ice time he gets, how his shooting percentage is once he shifts to facing NHL goaltenders, and how healthy he can stay. Who knows exactly where Marner will be once he reaches his prime? All that is certain is that it’ll be exciting to watch.

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Posted on May 31, 2016, in Blog, In the System, Prospects and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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