Mitch Marner will adjust strategy for Maple Leafs training camp

Knights Owner and Director of Player Personnel for the Toronto Maple Leafs Mark Hunter talks about winning the MasterCard Memorial Cup and Marner's future.

The Mitchell Marner who tried out for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015 is not the same Marner who will arrive at the NHL training camp in 2016.

Coming off a ridiculously successful junior campaign in which all he did was win — both as an individual (MVP of the OHL regular season, OHL playoffs, Memorial Cup, and the CHL) and a teammate (Marner’s London Knights hoisted the OHL Cup and Memorial Cup) — the 19-year-old wonder vows to change his strategy heading into camp this fall.

“The nerves. I kinda went into my first training camp really nervous and not knowing how to take it,” Marner told Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday.

Like so many 18-year-old rookie hopefuls and first-round picks, Marner said he suffered from a case of the jitters in 2015. Afraid to make a mistake, he opted for the safe, simple play in camp instead of trying to create scoring opportunities — the strength of a kid who models his game after Knights alum Patrick Kane.

“That’s what was wrong with my game,” he said. “This year I have to play my game, play the game I’m used to playing and not changing it up, instead of trying to make no mistakes at all — because that’s when bad things happen.”

Toronto’s Mark Hunter, who drafted Marner fourth overall in ’15, and London head coach Dale Hunter both sound optimistic about Marner’s chances of making the show come fall.

“Hopefully,” said Marner, who starts his summer training Monday. Presumably by lifting his various 2015-16 trophies.

“It’s how I come into training camp. If my body is ready to take an 82-game season, then I think I have a good chance of making it. It’s all up to how hard I work this off-season and how much I treat my body right.”

Due to the NHL’s agreement with the CHL, the undersized Marner will either play for the big club in 2016-17 or return to London for a fourth year of junior, put up pinball numbers and try to defend the title. (The Leafs can give Marner a maximum of two weeks with the AHL’s Marlies — the ideal spot for his development — on a conditioning stint.)

If that is the case, Marner says he would not be upset to return to London.

“Really, we’re not missing too many guys next year,” Marner said. “We have another chance at a Memorial Cup championship.”

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