clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

From the editor's desk: Mitch Marner and the rise of the little guy

New, comments

The success of undersized players this season is a good sign for the future of younger players like Mitch Marner.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

When Martin St. Louis first cracked the NHL in 1998 with the Calgary Flames, there were few, if any, teams that believed he would have a lengthy NHL career. After all, he was just 5' 8", and small guys would not be able to go toe to toe with the larger NHL centers and defensemen that dominated the league in the late 90s.

1,134 games, 1,032 career points, and a Stanley Cup later, score one for the little guys.

The average height of NHL teams in the 2013-14 season was around 6' 1", and the average weight about 202 pounds. Yet the team that St. Louis had the most success with - the Tampa Bay Lightning - doesn't seem to care.

Their offense this postseason has been led by the 5' 9" Tyler Johnson, who leads all playoff scorers with eight tallies. Joining him at 4th place on that list is 5' 11" Nikita Kucherov with six goals. Other below average height players on the top ten list include 6' 0" Vladimir Tarasenko (six goals in six games) of St. Louis, and 6' 0" Evgeny Kuznetsov (five goals in 14 games) of Washington; (honorable mention to Johnny Gaudreau (5'9") who had four goals in eleven games for Calgary).

Most, if not all, of these players were integral parts of their teams' regular season offenses as well: Of all the aforementioned players, only Kuznetsov had fewer than 52 points, and Johnson, Tarasenko, and Gaudreau were all north of 70 points on the season.

In today's NHL, it's possible to be small and successful, which is why Mitch Marner of the OHL London Knights could go as high as 3rd overall to Arizona at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Granted, he's 5' 11" and 165 pounds, which means he still likely has to grow more into his frame. But he's proven to be a deadly scorer on the wing - able to do with speed and skill what many players can't do with size.

Joining Marner on the NHL's Central Scouting Service's Top 25 are Matthew Barzal (5' 11"), Travis Konecny (5' 9"), Jake DeBrusk (5' 11"), and Nicholas Merkley (5' 10").

To be clear, size remains important in the league, especially at the center position. But for wingers, natural talent and speed is more and more able to compensate for being undersized, thanks to players like Johnson, Kucherov, and Martin St. Louis all those years ago.

Thoughts

  • Anthony Duclair is having a nice QMJHL postseason. He's looking more and more like a possibility to make the opening night roster next year.
  • Of course, the consideration for him and Max Domi is that both are AHL eligible this season. Both will be over 20 years old by the time the season starts, and Domi has played four CHL seasons. The Coyotes don't necessarily have to bring either up if they don't want to, as it isn't a choice between NHL or CHL.
  • The Coyotes have dismissed their entire AHL coaching staff. Don Maloney appears to be looking to make a wholesale change of direction as far as prospect development goes.
  • One Coyotes' prospect that didn't seem to get a whole lot of attention this past season is Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman Dysin Mayo. In his post-draft season, Mayo recorded 14 goals and 37 assists as an assistant captain.
  • A couple more addenda to the weekend's ownership brouhaha: Arizona's public records laws are among the most pro-access in the nation. It's very difficult to imagine the confidentiality agreement between IceArizona and Glendale remaining confidential should it be challenged in court.
  • It's worth noting that while the lease agreement prevents unilateral termination of the agreement by either party (except for the 180 day out-clause window), if IceArizona and Glendale both want to opt out of the agreement, they absolutely can whenever they desire.
  • On that happy note, enjoy the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!