In your second year at this camp, how valuable was last year given the perspective you had then to what you’ve got now?
Mitch Marner: It was a lot different last year. I felt last year I kind of came in here with a mindset that I wasn’t going to make this team. That’s obviously a mindset nobody wants to have coming in. I think that’s why I made a lot of mistakes and didn’t play the way I should’ve. This year, I am just trying to keep a healthy mind and make sure, when I get on the ice, I’m playing with confidence and having fun with the puck.
What was the biggest transition for you? They say, “it’s a man’s game,” but you’re 19 years of age and you’re moving into that direction. How different do you think it might be this time around because you are bigger?
Marner: Obviously, you hope that’s going to make a big difference. I feel stronger on the ice, that’s for sure. I feel better on the ice. Faster. I just want to make sure that, when I get the puck on the ice, I make the plays I’m used to making and that I’m not trying to rush too many things.
Are you comfortable with the fact that there are so many high-profile names on this team in and around your age, and it isn’t just on you? It’s on a whole bunch of other guys – a team, in fact.
Marner: For sure. It’s kind of crazy looking at how many prospects we have that did so many great things last year. It’s crazy, the prospect pool. You saw it this weekend, how [well] all of us really came together. It kind of makes it exciting to see, in a couple of years, what it could be like.
Talking to Jeremy Bracco last week in London about how much hockey you guys have played this summer – each seems to be an important stepping stone, whether it’s national junior program or a rookie tournament. How do you look back on the last couple of months as you get ready for Halifax?
Marner: Obviously you start with development camp here. You kind of get to come in and get to know the systems again, and try to get better there. Then you have the world junior showcase, playing against guys from all over the world. It’s good. You get games under you and you kind of get your speed back and see where you are athletically. Now, with the rookie tournament, it’s really competitive. It’s obviously a first impression. You just want to go out there and do the best you can. At main camp now, you just want to make sure you have fun out there, that you learn things, and that you’re not afraid to make mistakes.
Does the draft day seem decades away? Does it feel that far away given all you’ve been through the last couple of years and the success you’ve had?
Marner: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy, over this past year. It was a time that I’ll for sure never forget with my family. It’s one that’s always going to be in the back of your mind no matter what. It seems like it’s so long ago, but it’s really not. It’s fun to look ahead to what this main camp is going to look like and what the possibilities could be.