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Get to Know a Maple Leaf: Mitch Marner

As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Maple Leafs, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important Leafs players and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Mitch Marner

#16 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 170 | Born: May 5, 1997

Birthplace: Markham, ON | Drafted: 4th, 2015 (Toronto)

Assets: Is a natural point producer with good skating ability and some versatility in his game. Passes the puck with aplomb and can be an excellent asset on the power play. Raises his level of play in big spots.

Flaws: Is undersized for the professional ranks, so he needs to grow bigger and stronger in order to maximize production at the highest level. Also needs to work on his play when he doesn't have the puck.

Career Potential: Mega-talented scorer with good upside.

(Via The Hockey News)

Career 20-Game Rolling Five-on-Five CF% (via Corsica):

2016-17 Usage Chart (via Corsica):

Why You Should Know Who He Is: The brightest spotlight in Toronto obviously shines on Auston Matthews, but ignore Marner at your own risk. The Leafs’ first-round pick in 2015 also made his debut this season, and came close to putting up 20 goals while centering James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak on the team’s second line. How successful has that line been? Well, Marner ranked third on the Leafs in five-on-five points/60 with 2.13, which narrowly edges out Matthews; slotted in at first and second place are van Riemsdyk (2.38) and Bozak (2.14).

How the Caps Can Stop Him:

It’s been mostly Karl Alzner and John Carlson eating the toughest minutes for the Caps this season, which means they’re set up for a steady diet of the Auston Matthews line. That leaves Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov — arguably the Caps’ most dependable duo — on Marner duty.

Marner’s possession numbers took a nose dive at the end of the season, while Orlov and Niskanen both boast gaudy score-adjusted possession numbers at above 55%. Marner’s offensive talents can’t be denied, but he won’t be able to do much with them if the Orlov/Niskanen pairing (and whatever forward line HCBT tosses out with them) does what they’ve done all year, and pin their opponents at the other end of the ice.