One of these things is not like the other
Over his past 50 games with the Maple Leafs, Mitch Marner has scored 18 goals, 48 assists for 66 points heading into Saturday night’s game against Boston. The third-year Leaf has been scoring at 108-point pace in that rather amazing period.
Over his past 50 games, interrupted by injury, Auston Matthews has scored 29 goals (47-goal pace) had 28 assists for 57 points. That’s a 93-point pace in his third NHL season. And over his past 50 games, William Nylander (pictured) has scored 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points. That’s a 20-goal pace and a 49-point pace. As they used to say on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other. Nylander fought the great free-agent contract fight, missing two months of the season, and is now paid as if he is an NHL star. You could argue he didn’t play like a star prior to his signing — and hasn’t played like one since.
Marner has made a giant jump from Year 2 to Year 3. In ways not completely noted in his impressive scoring stats, Matthews has made a leap in his play in each of his first three seasons. Nylander is older than Matthews or Marner. Year 3 looks more like a lost season, a regression, than anything else to date. Maybe it’s the contract. Maybe it’s the time off. Maybe it’s the pressure.
Maybe it’s just a free-agent signing gone wrong.