The gap between Connor McDavid and Mitch Marner is narrowing; yes, this is legitimately true

Ryan Smitheram
November 29, 2022  (11:48)

Mitch Marner has registered at least a point in 17 straight games for the Leafs this season and in 24 games has registered a point in 22 of them. He has 7 goals and 21 assists on the season so far, and while what he has done to start the season is impressive, it's not new. Since January first of this year, Marner has been scoring at a ridiculous pace.

In 71 games since January 1st, Marner has recorded 36 goals and 104 points, just 6 points behind Connor McDavid's 110 points in 71 games. Aside from 6 points the difference is about $1.5M in cap space and a more complete game. In case you're skeptical, lets dive into the underlying numbers. Dating back to the beginning of last season, McDavid obviously has much higher offensive percentages and expected numbers, but defensively, Marner has been much better. Not to take anything away from McDavid offensively, because he is one of, if not the best in the game, but he has yet to completely develop his game without the puck. All of the following numbers are at 5-on-5 with Marner and/or McDavid on the ice.
With Marner on the ice for the Leafs, versus McDavid on the ice for the Oilers, the Leafs have a better faceoff percentage (56.8% to 54.9%), expected goals against (51.2 to 71.2), goals for percentage (59.6% to 56.8%), scoring chance percentage (61.1% to 54.3%), high danger chance percentage (60.1% to 57.7%) and on-ice shooting percentage (11.8% to 8.0%). Points-wise at 5-on-5 since the start of last season, Marner has put up 77 at 5-on-5 while McDavid has only put up 69 points. In addition to putting up more points at 5-on-5 than McDavid, Marner does while starting in defensive zone 38.5% and 46.7% the past two seasons while McDavid has only started in the defensive zone 34% and 36.9% of the time, meaning McDavid should have the advantage considering he starts his shifts in the offensive zone much more than Marner does at 5-on-5.
It's not often that we see a winger considered for the Selke trophy, but the way Marner has played since January, and continued that play into this season, it would not be surprising to see him as a nominee for the award in 2022-23. He has certainly proven to be worth every penny of his $10.9M annual salary and thankfully, the Leafs will have the cap space to give him a nice raise in a couple of years if all goes according to plan.
*Stats courtesy of naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
The gap between Connor McDavid and Mitch Marner is narrowing; yes, this is legitimately true

Who is the better 200-foot player?

Connor McDavid8522.8 %
Mitch Marner28777.2 %
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