In our continuing look at the draft eligible prospect for 2015, Mitchell Marner is making things happen in a big way for the London Knights. As an Oilers fan you may see ‘5.11, 164 Right Winger’ and balk but there’s a compelling story here. If anyone can dislodge big defender Noah Hanifin from the No. 3 overall slot it might be the whiz kid from Thornhill, Ontario.

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The video above is compelling for sure but Oilers fans have seen prospects like Rob Schremp and Sam Gagner show their junior puck wizardry without being able to become complete NHLers. What makes Marner (possibly) different?

  • Brock Otten, OHL Prospects in ranking Marner No. 2 in the OHL for the 2015 draft: Really rising in my eyes. His play with London has been absolutely
    exceptional the last few months. Such a high energy player who can
    affect the game in a variety of ways. In puck pursuit, he’s quite
    relentless and he forces a lot of turnovers on the forecheck. But he’s
    got the vision and hockey sense to find teammates, while playing at a
    high tempo. He makes such quick decisions and rarely turns the puck over
    in the offensive end. His skill level is also incredibly high and I
    think he’s the perfect type of player for today’s run and gun NHL. With
    his tenacity, and as he continues to add strength, I don’t see his
    average size being an issue. Source


The Gabriel Desjardins projection model has proven valuable over the years, as it’s a very cool ‘line in the sand’ for projecting players. It is NOT a guarantee but I’ve found (since about 2007) the equivalency gives us a solid guideline. Here are the current NHLE’s for the top forwards on my list this season. Source

  1. Connor McDavid 82gp, 22-44-66
  2. Jack Eichel 82gp, 82gp, 19-39-58
  3. Mitchell Marner 82gp, 20-30-50

These are all terrific prospects (the number one NHLE delivered by an Oilers No. 1 overall pick? Taylor Hall 82gp, 19-27-46). 

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Marner is definitely third best in this group, but I think you’ll agree it’s a helluva group. I can see Oilers fans discounting this player—small skilled OHL forward whose resume sounds like Sam Gagner—but there are important differences in Marner as a player.

For one, foot speed.

  • Christopher Ralph, NHL Writers: He kind of reminds me of Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators in his  draft year – skinny as a beanpole but man can he play hockey. I
    think Mitch may have even more offensive upside than Turris. Size is not
    going to hold Mitch back due to his speed, vision, creativity,
    defensive ability and all-around offensive skills. He is simply an elite
    hockey player, something of a hybrid of Jonathan Drouin and Nikolaj Ehlers. Source 

That’s far more dynamic than Sam Gagner.


  • bwar

    I really think this draft will get interesting after the first 2 picks. I don’t think anyone has impressed enough to be a clear #3 in the draft yet. A guy like Marner could go as high as #3 but could also fall much closer to #10. Should be entertaining at least.

  • Spydyr

    If we’re picking third Marner is definitely who I’d take. The Oilers have some center depth organizationally. Nuge, Draisaitl, Yakimov, Chase and Roy although I think these two will end up on the wings.

    But with questions about Nail and Perron gone we actually aren’t all that loaded on the wings.

    We have a lot of size coming up the pipe, and size doesn’t automatically trump. How many of us would like Reider to still be part of our organization?

    Marner is going to be lights out good.

  • Spydyr

    The only name I care about after McDavid, Eichel and Hanifin is Pavel Zacha.

    He’s 6’3″ 210 lbs at 17. He is Czech, but is playing this year for Sarnia. He played last year in the Czech pro league with Petr Nedved. Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards said:

    “He’s got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game, In the game I saw him play he broke up a few rushes in his own end and transitioned up the ice really well. He’s physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck.”

    Zacha has 9 goals and 20 points in 24 games so far. I will keep track of him through the rest of the year. I would hope the Oilers will as well.

  • Spydyr

    I agree that one might prefer a RD or C all else equal, but at the same time, passing on an elite W only to end up with bust C or a D that plays but isn’t a difference maker.

  • CaliforniaOil

    So the idea would be a roster looking like


    I would rather have Zacha personally but that also creates a log jam for Yak.2,Drai, and anyone else looking to crack that roster, especially if Zacha kills it in training camp and preseason

    • OilersDynasty

      Zacha can play left wing. It could be unreal watching him win puck battles in the corner and moving the puck out to Draisaitl. In a couple years they could be like Carter & Kopitar for the Kings right now.

      • CaliforniaOil

        Okay but where do Drai and Zacha play on the roster? Do we throw Yak on the third line and wonder why he cant do anything? I mean Yak isnt a #1Ov but i think he is a freaking great complimentary player on a second line, especially if we keep Roy, who i think is exactly what Yak needed. Or do we place Zacha and Drai on the third line ? And get rid of Purcell and lander?

        • bwar

          Zacha can stay in Junior or play on whatever line for a few games. Draisaitl can play on whatever line as a wing or center, or in the AHL.

          Yak is a RW. If Roy resigns(a big if) he won’t stay longer than a season. Purcell (if he isn’t bought out) will be a free agent in 2016. Lander is not relevant and will play wherever.

          I think a Zacha, Draisaitl, Yakupov combo would be dominant in 3-5 years.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Hmmmmm….. I bet he would look great in a fLames jersey playing alongside Johnny Hockey…

    Then hopefully we can watch Nurse and Draisiatl crush those 2 pint-sized danglers in the corners for the next decade or so.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      You mean like when Johnny played the “big bad Kings” and scored a naturally hat trick to bring the Flames back from 3-0 and win the game?

      Kid is greased lightning – has only took 2 or 3 good hits all season (and I watch most every game)… the most recent from Pavel Datsyuk (takes a shifty player to hit a shifty player)

      I was worried about the exact thing you describe, but it has actually been quite impressive to watch how hard it is for guys to hit him.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Andrew Cogliano had a hat trick over Shane Doan’s line in 2012.

        I’m not saying what John did wasn’t meaningful, just that one game in this league isn’t a sign of dominance.

        He has been incredible this year. It’s yet to be seen what he can be over a few seasons.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          Sure. One game isn’t.. but the kid drives the bus offensively on many a night. It’s quite fun to watch actually.

          Let’s look at this objectively: He’s 3rd in Flames scoring (2nd among forwards); 2nd in rookie scoring behind Forsberg. He’s one of the best in the league at takeaways, has more zone carry-ins than any other Flames player, draws more penalties than any other Flames player, he’s on our top PP unit and is also on the ice at the end of the game in tied, trailing or leading situations (meaning Hartley trusts him), other teams D are keying in on him. He was also just appointed to the skills comp at All-star game. All this while being 5’9 and 150 lbs and a rookie to boot. You have to watch him on a nightly basis to appreciate what he brings.

          He’s won a National championship, World Juniors (leading scorer), Hobey Baker award, one of the leading team scorers at the World Championship this past summer for USA, tied Paul Kariya’s NCAA point streak record and scored more in College Hockey than what the NCAA had seen in years. He just keeps proving people wrong everywhere he goes. Not sure what else it will take for the kid to get a little respect.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Some respect? He is fawned over constantly. I think he’s been great.

            I think he needs all that speed to make plays. I think one unlucky fall/dirty hit that damages his knee will sap a bit of that amazing speed. When he is a half step slower he may have lost the edge that allows him to dominate. Then he will be a guy who is too small to be effective in the NHL and his career will fizzle.

            I wish no harm on him. He has earned everything he has. That being said, I don’t think my forecast is unreasonable.

            Enjoy the kid while he’s there.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            The fawning comes from the fact that from the day he was signed, the Flames gained found money in a 4th round pick. To get a high end offensive contributor there in the draft (as was also TJ Brodie) speeds up the rebuild. You expect the fawning over top picks, but this is pure Gold!

            Any player could be done if they blow a knee – not sure what his size has to do with that. You talk about him slowing down like it is an inevitable certainty. So far he has popped right up from every hit he has taken… I hope that continues.

            Could he fizzle… not impossible. But what if he improves… he’s only 21.

          • toprightcorner

            Obviously you didn’t read what you responded to. Read it over again and it may make more sense.

            I don’t want to get into an optimism vs pessimism debate. Today he is a legitimate NHL player. His production is beyond reasonable criticism. Maybe he is able to maintain his production and have a stellar NHL career. Maybe he regresses due to injury or other circumstance.

            If he were an Oiler I would be loving every second of his play. I would also be trepidatious towards his long-term production.

  • OilersDynasty

    I wonder why there’s so little talk of Dylan Strome.
    You could say that he’s getting alot of his points due to playing with McDavid.
    False..he plays on a different line.

    You could then say he’s getting secondary opposition..
    Well his Pts/game never suffered while McDavid was gone for about 5 weeks.

    He’s already bigger than his brother (Ryan is about Taylor Halls size)..and seems to have even a higher offensive upside.

  • OilersDynasty

    I agree with a couple of the boys here. After McDavid, Eichel, and Hanifin, the ONLY guy the Oilers should be considering is Pavel Zacha. There’s a couple of other guys I would want (Provorov and Rantanen) but their most likely going around 8-12.

  • bwar

    Most people expect the Oilers to trade Jeff Petry. The most commonly expected return is a second round pick.

    When that trade happens(likely) it will leave Edmonton with two seconds and a late first in a very deep draft. What is the probability of moving up in the first? I would like to see them make a move to acquire 2 of the top 10-15 prospects this year.

    There may be a team looking for extra selections to improve their prospect depth. There certainly was in 2003…

  • bwar

    I wonder what the Oiler’s would need to move their second 1st round pick up to around 10th in this draft? Because one of these guys we are talking about is going to fall that far and it sure would be incredible to get two studs out of this draft instead of 1 stud and a long shot.

    How far do you think we could move up by offering the Penguins first and the Oilers Second?

  • taz115


    Brock Otten on Mitchell Marner vs. Sam Bennett

    “RE: Bennett versus Marner

    They are similar players in some regards.

    Both players are relentless in puck pursuit and excel as forecheckers.

    Both players are exceptionally smart in the offensive end and do a great job of creating scoring chances.

    They’re similar size and both project as potential top line NHL players.

    Bennett is the better NHL prospect IMO, but by a slight margin. Bennett is the more physical player. He’s also a little better defensively right now. And Bennett is the slightly better skater. That’s not because Marner is a poor skater, but because Bennett is an exceptional skater (on the same level as McDavid in terms of edging and agility).”

  • bwar

    The way this draft looks I would think about trying to trade the 2016 1st if it gave you a shot at drafting top 15. The draft looks that deep to me, probably about a dozen guys I would be pumped to see pull on an Oiler jersey.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    If we go back to best player available would we have drafted Drai I have a good friend who is a western scout for a good eastern team he had Bennett number 2and Drai number 4 but oilers wanted size scouts may have been overruled big but soft and not a great skater

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      These are 17 and 18 year old kids. Any specific ranking of them is not relevant. Ekblad was alone at the top, while the three centers had virtually identical career projections. It all comes down to who you like best.

      Draisaitl has Anze Kopitar upside. I like him. Bennet has Doug Gilmour upside. I like him. Sam Reinhart has Joe Sakic upside. I like him too. All three of the comparables are hall of famers (Kopitar is probable).

      The modern game seems to favor larger players. Of the three I would have chosen Draisaitl. I’m happy with him. Buffalo and Calgary should be happy with their players as well.

      Screw Florida.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Leon D won the fastest skater for the Oilers skills competition he beat Taylor Hall.

      Leon first couple steps is his problem. Obviously he is working on it.

      Oilers already had RNH when they were picking btw Leon and Bennett. size and skill matters in the West . So they took Leon, i’m sure if 2yrs ago they picked Sean Monahan they would have gone to Bennett.

    • toprightcorner

      not a great skater? Only won the fastest skater. Drai’s skating is not an issue at all and he is definitely not soft. maybe wait for a few years before comparing them.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Drai won the Oilers fastest skater race and the Oilers skills competition. He is plenty fast. I will say he is not comfortable playing the NHL at his top speed yet however. He keeps slowing it down which is costing him.

  • Citizen David

    I know we play in the western division and we need size but big and soft is still soft.Purcel has good size but to soft hope I’m wrong but oiler scouts have not been hitting it out of the park lately and Bennett when he fills out about 190 pounds reminds me of a more talented Adam Graves

  • toprightcorner

    About half of the points in the video, if he tried the same thing at the NHL or even AHL level he would have been on his butt.

    You have to take how the players game will translate into the NHL and Marner has a lot of obstacles to overcome. Not saying he wont be a good NHL player, just a higher chance he could be a bust than the others ranked in the top 5-6.

  • toprightcorner

    Draft down the middle no matter what or who. Lot’s of great young centers in this draft and we need to get one of them. If not a centre then at least a big man like Crouse.

  • bradleypi

    Not gonna sugarcoat this at all. If the oilers end up with the third pick in the draft and take a small skilled forward over hanifin then they are absolute idiots. Surely they have learned their lesson about taking the best player available. It’s time to start drafting for need. The oil have plenty of forwards. What they need are high end dmen now. And sorry to rain on oilersnations parade, but marincin and klefblom are not high end dmen. 2nd pairings maybe