You can add reigning Art Ross, Ted Lindsay and Hart Memorial Trophy winner Patrick Kane to the growing list of those impressed with Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and a budding Toronto Maple Leafs team.
“You can tell Toronto’s got a bright future,” the Chicago Blackhawks star told Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday. “The Leafs are going to be good–they’re already good–but they’re fun to watch right now too.”
Kane registered 21 goals, 51 assists for 72 points in 82 games during his rookie campaign in 2007-08. Matthews has already scored 21 times as an NHL newbie and is on pace for 73 points.
Matthews, the first American since Kane to be selected first overall in an NHL draft, has said he’s excited to be around Kane during the NHL All-Star festivities at the end of the month. Kane was one of four Blackhawks named to the Central Division All-Star Team–Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are the others.
“How can you not be impressed with him?” Kane said. “I didn’t realize how skilled he was, how good of a shot he had and how good he is at stripping pucks and making moves along the boards and different things like that.”
Marner, who currently ranks third in rookie scoring behind Matthews and Patrick Laine, has been compared to Kane throughout his playing career.
“I think there’s obviously some comparison there with the size and that we both played in London. He’s a top pick (fourth overall in 2015) as well,” Kane said. “One of the things with him that I really notice when I watch him is he’s got that all-around complete game where he’s blocking shots, playing defence--which I never really did that much at that age--and he has what seems like great chemistry with that line he’s been on with (James) van Riemsdyk and (Tyler) Bozak.
"That team’s maybe one of the funner teams to watch in the league."
The Blackhawks needed a third-period comeback to beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in a shootout back in October. They'll complete their season series when Kane and the Blackhawks visit Toronto on March 18.