Leafs forward identified as the NHL's top playmaker

Published July 29, 2023 at 11:16

When you look around the league, there are a ton of players who receive a lot of credit for being the best in their field. Until his retirement this week, Patrice Bergeron was viewed as the NHL's best two-way player. Cale Makar is largely viewed as the NHL's top defenseman. Alex Ovechkin is this generation's best pure goal scorer. Well, now the Leafs can boast having the league's top playmaker on the roster.

Per J Fresh Hockey's data, Leafs winger Mitch Marner blew away the competition in the NHL as the best pure setup man in the league, using data regarding league average shooting %, cross slot passes, behind-the-net passes, low-high passes, one-timers, deflections and more.

As you can see from the chart above, Marner's "passing score per 60" is 1.59, finishing ahead of Kevin Fiala (1.48) and Connor McDavid (1.47), with Artemi Panarin (1.41) and Nathan MacKinnon (1.39) rounding out the top 5.

Charts are not the be-all, end-all of hockey, and you also have to take the eye-test into consideration. When you do that, Marner still grades out extremely well. He's a dynamic player who has the ability to slow the game down and find space where there is seemingly none. His vision is almost unrivalled in the NHL and his ability to find passes that simply aren't there to make for 98% of the NHL's players should be all the evidence anyone needs to acknowledge that Marner is on a level of his own in the playmaking department.

It's honestly nice to see a Leaf finally getting some credit, as many other fanbases and analytic models seem to do whatever they can to discredit and minimize what players like Marner and Auston Matthews can do, though Matthews does seem to get a lot more credit given his elite scoring ability.
July 29   |   391 answers
Leafs forward identified as the NHL's top playmaker

Do you think Mitch Marner is the NHL's top playmaker?

Yes22156.5 %
No6416.4 %
He's top-3, but not #110627.1 %
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