Mitchell Marner said he’s excited about the additions the Toronto Maple Leafs made during the offseason, particularly center Joe Thornton.
“They want to win and I think that’s what we need on our team — we need those guys to keep us in line and keep us going every single day,” the Maple Leafs forward said on the Tim and Sid podcast Tuesday.
Marner is entering his fifth season with the Maple Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup Playoff series since 2004; the 23-year-old has scored 291 points (83 goals, 208 assists) in 300 NHL games. Toronto lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season.
The Maple Leafs have made significant additions since the end of last season in Thornton, defensemen TJ Brodie and Zach Bogosian, and forward Wayne Simmonds.
Thornton signed a one-year contract worth $700,000 with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 16. The 41-year-old has scored 1,509 points (420 goals, 1,089 assists) in 1,636 NHL games with the Sharks and Boston Bruins.
Marner said he learned of what Thornton can bring to Toronto from forward Patrick Marleau, who played two seasons with the Maple Leafs (2017-19). Marleau and Thornton played 12 seasons together with the San Jose Sharks and them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016; they lost the best-of-7 series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
“Throughout Patty’s time here he’s talked to me and Auston a good amount about Jumbo, just says … [he] keeps everything light, has a great time, but on the ice, he’s a competitive guy,” Marner said “He plays hard and he wants to win.
“I’m excited. I mean, everything I’ve heard about him, he just seems like an unbelievable dude, and Patty’s always relayed that back to us. I’m excited to get talking to him, and as soon as he signed, I sent him a big text saying, ‘Super excited to have him,’ and I think he’s going to do a lot.”
Simmonds, who grew up in the Toronto area, is a six-time 20-goal scorer and has played 909 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.
“I think he’s hungry, he wants to prove to everyone that he’s still the player that he is,” Marner said. “I’ve been seeing him on the ice recently, and he’s been looking like a beast out there.
“I’ve been watching him on the half-wall, down low, when he’s got that puck and it’s hard to get it off him. He’s a big man and he can control that puck and around the net — he doesn’t miss the net very often — it’s pretty impressive to watch.”
The NHL is hoping to start the season in mid-January, but no official date has been announced.