Mitch Marner’s first response to his prospective new function as a situational defenceman?
“I’m open to type of whichever,” the Maple Leafs winger reported Friday.
“Obviously, it is a very little different playing defence on electrical power performs than at even energy. But at times you get these prospects, late on shifts or late on electric power plays, the place you are a forward who has to engage in on defence. I’m open to all options and whatever (mentor Sheldon Keefe is) contemplating.”
Keefe likes the notion of Marner actively playing on the blue line once in a while for the reason that of his wonderful skating skills, his evolution as 1 of the prime wingers in the NHL and his standing as a person of the league’s greatest penalty killers. But it will be a constrained deployment, like when the Leafs are seeking to pin the opposition in their end and confuse them with a four-forward, a single-defenceman alignment.
The chat of a ahead-defenceman part has coincided with a rash of accidents on defence. The Leafs realized Friday that Carl Dahlström will want shoulder surgery and will miss out on 6 months, although Jordie Benn will be out 3 weeks with a groin personal injury.
Marner’s defensive activity has risen to the level wherever he has been in the voting for the Selke Trophy the past 4 seasons. He posted a job-very best as well as-23 previous time.
“I guess just attempting to adapt to it, building certain I’m excellent ample to consider on 3-on-2s or 2-on-1s,” reported Marner, who has hardly ever formally played defence at the qualified degree. “You are trying to just converse with whoever is out there as a defence lover, speaking about how we’ll assault and end five-guy rushes coming in opposition to us. We’re really lucky to have defencemen who are pretty talkative about how to enjoy specified performs. They are normally open to concerns.”
Auston Matthews, who will very likely be on the ice when Marner shifts to defence, has each self-assurance that Marner can pull it off.
“He appears the element out there, I feel the thought is offensive-zone things, and certainly he’s a good skater and a intelligent hockey participant out there,” Matthews reported. “You trust him to make the suitable reads, so it’s a issue of receiving him some reps, but he’s undoubtedly a man who’s geared to that task.”
Marner explained he constantly performs on skating backward, largely for the reason that he’s experienced to choose up a defensive position all through electricity performs when the opposition forces a turnover and heads back again towards the Leafs’ defensive zone.
“I’ve experienced to work on backward skating my full daily life since of power-perform things, so I’m relaxed with that,” Marner explained. “I’m comfy with the total turning and obtaining again on pucks. We’ll see when it really arrives into engage in and see if I can make some performs again there.”
Marner’s penalty killing has ingrained a larger feeling of defensive accountability. He states he is frequently looking at the participate in through the energy engage in to assure the device does not get caught quick-handed if it turns the puck over.
“We have a ton of firepower on the energy engage in, but you’ve received to make positive we’re not too low … You have to make guaranteed you really don’t get way too reckless out there.”
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