The Maple Leafs’ development camp wrapped up at MasterCard Centre on Saturday with a Blue and White scrimmage, pitting the team’s two most highly-touted prospects Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner against each other.
Marner scored a pair in Team Blue’s 5-2 victory. Conversely, Matthews was held off the scoresheet and had trouble defending Blue’s third goal of the game, scored by Trevor Moore.
Yet undoubtedly, Matthews finished the week as the most dominant player over the six-day exercise. Possessing unmatched speed in comparison to the rest of his teammates, Matthews more than demonstrated his credentials as a number-one overall draft selection.
“He’s a horse out there! He makes an impression every time he’s on the ice,” Moore said.
Marner, who is spending his time primarily perfecting his shot, once again found himself on the opposite end of the rink as Matthews. The duo clashed at the 2016 World Junior Championship in Finland, a Boxing Day matchup in which Matthews’s United States squad trumped Marner and the Canadians 4-2 in the preliminary round.
“It’s lot of fun playing against Matthews on the ice,” Marner said. “I’ve only played against him once at the World Juniors. Coming out here and playing against him twice is a lot of fun and realizing how good of a hockey player he really is to play against. He’s a special player and I think everyone knows that. Putting yourself against him these two games, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Leafs coach Mike Babcock envisions a bright future for Marner, Toronto’s fourth-overall pick in 2015.
“He’s got a path set up for himself,” Babcock said. “He’s worked hard, he’s got to continue to work hard, it’s a big summer for him . We expect him to get stronger. We don’t expect him to be anybody different than who he is, but we expect him to get to be as strong as he can possibly be within the frame that God gave him, and come to camp and be who he is.”