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Brayden Point vs Mitch Marner: A comparison of two young stars

It’s probably time the hockey world starts giving Brayden Point the praise he deserves.

Mitch Marner celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with teammate Brayden Point

A few weeks ago while evaluating my fantasy hockey team, I proposed a question on Twitter that was met with a lot of negativity from my followers. I knew it would. It was a leading question and it’s no secret that I have far more followers that are Maple Leafs fans than Tampa Bay Lightning supporters.

I’m not sure if it was seen as a slight on Marner, overvaluing Point’s development, or something in between. I’ll admit it started off as me just poking at Leafs fans a little, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought Brayden Point and Mitch Marner might be a lot more comparable than some would think.

Both Mitch Marner and Brayden Point had incredible rookie seasons. They both proved they belong in the NHL despite a worry about their size and both finished in the top-10 in rookie of the year voting.

Point v Marner Rookie Season (2016-17)

Player GP G A P 5v5 G/60 5v5 P/60 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF%rel 5v5 CF/60 5v5 CA/60 5v5 xGF 5v5 xGA 5v5 xGF% oZs%
Player GP G A P 5v5 G/60 5v5 P/60 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF%rel 5v5 CF/60 5v5 CA/60 5v5 xGF 5v5 xGA 5v5 xGF% oZs%
Brayden Point 68 18 22 40 0.71 1.49 52.55 2.52 57.38 52.51 33.67 31.33 51.80% 56.70%
Mitch Marner 77 19 42 61 0.87 2.20 50.17 -0.28 60.94 60.76 46.50 47.98 49.22% 55.90%

Looking at the numbers from their rookie season, it is very evident that Mitch Marner is a more dynamic offensive player. At even strength, he generates shots and scoring chances at a much higher rate than Brayden Point. He had an ixGF (individual expected goals for) that was 12% higher than Point - a pretty significant difference.

From an offensive standpoint, Point was very good as a rookie - Marner was great. Where Point closes the gap, however, is on the defensive side of the puck. While Marner was generating a ton of scoring chances, he was also giving them up. Point was above the 50% threshold for both CF% and xGF% at even strength, while Marner was negative in both categories. What this means is that while he is on the ice, Brayden Point was actually more beneficial to his team winning the game than Mitch Marner was - if you’re a fan of these types of metrics.

What makes Point’s numbers stand out even more is when you compare them to the rest of the team. He has a positive CF%rel, meaning his rate is 2.52% higher than his average teammate. In contrast, Marner’s is negative relative to the other Toronto players.

Brayden Point’s defensive responsibility was likely one of the biggest factors coach Jon Cooper considered when deciding to leave him at center as opposed to moving him to the wing - something that often happens with forwards his size.

This season, Point’s offensive production has picked up, shrinking the gap between he and Marner. In 11 games - playing mainly with Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde - Point has already put up 5 goals and 12 points. As a trade-off, he is not limiting shots against as well as a year ago, though he still has a very respectable 51.8 CF%.

Point v Marner Career Statistics (as of October 27, 2017)

Player GP G A P P/60 CF/60 CA/60 CF% Rel CF% GF% Rel GF% xGF/60 ixGF/60 xGA/60 xGF% Rel xGF%
Player GP G A P P/60 CF/60 CA/60 CF% Rel CF% GF% Rel GF% xGF/60 ixGF/60 xGA/60 xGF% Rel xGF%
Brayden Point (5v5) 79 15 16 31 1.73 57.82 53.86 51.8 1.85 56.47 4.89 2.16 0.64 2.16 50.30 -0.08
Mitch Marner (5v5) 87 15 25 40 2.08 60.82 59.21 50.7 0.24 50.85 0.24 2.65 0.73 2.70 49.80 -1.55
Brayden Point (All) 78 23 29 52 2.26 63.07 49.97 55.8 7.24 62.59 11.75 3.43 0.78 2.60 57.00 7.27
Mitch Marner (All) 86 20 46 66 2.76 69.55 52.80 56.8 9.01 57.14 7.28 4.43 0.90 2.93 60.28 11.15

Looking at their career numbers, any team would be lucky to have either one of these players. Both under the age of 22 - Marner is 10 months younger than Point - these two players have developed into impactful NHL players a lot quicker than many thought they would. Marner a dynamic offensive threat that produces enough to make up for his weaknesses defensively and Point, a responsible center that is playing on the second line but putting up points at the rate of a 1C.

To compare the two might be unfair—they’re both great.

Looking back to the original question, it now looks like Brayden Point has a very strong chance of outproducing Marner this season. Through no fault of his own, Marner finds himself buried on Toronto’s fourth line playing about 12 minutes a game. Combine that with a hot start from the Bolts and Point has a pretty nice head start outscoring Marner 12-6 thus far.

A little more than a year into their NHL careers, both Brayden Point and Mitch Marner have been incredibly impressive. Once given the dreaded ‘too small’ label, both have put up impressive offensive numbers, but only one plays a premium position and is defensively responsible. The reason a comparison between the two seemed outlandish when I made it is that one is the fourth overall pick that plays in the biggest hockey market in the world—and the other is Brayden Point.

(*statistics from naturalstattrick.com & cosica.hockey)

Poll

Who will end the 2017-18 season with more points

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Mitch Marner
    (57 votes)
  • 70%
    Brayden Point
    (135 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now