2015 NHL Draft: Marner Expecting to Play Center


The Toronto Maple Leafs had a chance to trade their fourth overall pick in Friday’s first round of the 2015 NHL draft. They elected to stay at their draft position where they selected top prospect Mitch Marner.

Marner played his junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights, where he was a winger most of the time. However, it is starting to sound like the Leafs would like to move him to center.

“That’s what [co-interim GM] Mark [Hunter] told me,” Marner told George Rusic and Ben Ennis on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Monday morning, via SportsNet.ca. “He wants me playing centre in a few years, so that’s what I’ve got to start working on.

“It’s a special place to play in Toronto and whatever they want me to do I’ll do.”

Marner was projected to be at least a top five pick in the draft, though when the Arizona Coyotes selected Dylan Strome with the third overall pick, it was expected the Leafs could take Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. They elected to go with the offensive talent, and selected Marner.

“It was kind of a surprise when Toronto called my name but it was a great delight,” Marner said to SportsNet. “[Being drafted by the Leafs] was better than what I expected it to be. I never thought when I was a little kid sitting in front of my television with my Leafs jersey on that I’d get a chance to put it on in a professional way and go out and play for my city. I’ve been given that opportunity now and it’s up to me to make the most of it.”

It wasn’t really a surprise for the Maple Leafs to select Marner. Mark Hunter, the current interim general manager, selected Marner in the first round of the 2013 OHL draft as well, so they already liked him as a player.

It was a good selection for the Knights, too. This past season, Marner posted 44 goals and 82 assists in 62 games. He was second in the league in scoring, right behind Strome of the Erie Otters, who was drafted one slot ahead of Marner.

“It’s up to me to make this team,” said Marner to SportsNet. The Leafs are going to give him a shot to make the team, and if he can’t, it’s back to London for one more season. One way or another, the Leafs have a potential stud on their hands, and it looks like they are going to give him a new position to play in.

More from NHL Draft