Player: John Marino
Born: May 21, 1997 (24 years old)
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 181 pounds
Birthplace: North Easton. Massachusetts
Draft: 2015, Edmonton Oilers, 6th round, 154th overall
2020-21 Statistics: 52 games played — 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 points
Contract Status: Marino signed a long term extension in January 2021 that begins next season. The deal runs through the 2026-27 season and carried a $4.4 million cap hit.
2019-20 Pensburgh Season in Review (90% A Grade, 9% B Grade)
In six games against the New York Islanders, Marino produced a goose egg in all offensive categories. In better news, Marino led all Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen with a 61.1 Corsi For%, which was also good for fourth best on the entire team. Though he didn’t register any points, Marino was on the ice for two Penguins goals in the series while being on the ice for three goals against.
Story of the Season
After putting together one of the best rookies season by a Penguins player in recent memory, expectations were sky high for Marino entering his sophomore year. Unfortunately, his second season in the NHL was filled with a few more bumps in the road than his first time around.
From the start, it was evident Marino wasn’t going to blow the doors off like he did a season earlier, but after a rocky beginning, he rediscovered some of the magic and put together a solid second half of the season and his defensive numbers were some of the best on the team even if the offense didn’t show up like everyone hoped.
In a season riddled with injuries up and down the Penguins lineup, Marino was one of the healthier players on the roster, missing just four games and playing the third most games for a defenseman behind only Kris Letang and Codi Ceci.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 8 defensemen on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 51.2% (3rd)
Goals For%: 49.3% (8th)
xGF%: 47.9% (7th)
Scoring Chance %: 51.4% (4th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 46.1% (6th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 8.4% (6th)
On-ice save%: 91.5% (7th)
Goals/60: .14 (7th)
Assist/60: .27 (8th)
Points/60: .41 (8th)
—Offensively this will be a season to forget for Marino, but the signs were there during his rookie campaign that he does possess the skill set to score so we can only hope they reemerges next season.
—Defensively he was a little better and he was third best in Corsi For% among all defensemen during the regular season then led the entire pack during the Penguins brief playoff stint. If the can rediscover that offensive touch and combine if with another defensive season like he just put together then those lofty expectations maybe not be so far out of reach next season.
Seeing that WAR% number in blue is always a good sign and shows having Marino on the ice and in the lineup is a positive for the Penguins. Defense was more his strong suit this season and it shows while the offense leaves much to be desired, especially from a guy who gets second pairing minutes and is about to get paid over four million a season.
Based on his WAR value alone, Marino came at an incredible bargain for the Penguins this season, and even if he puts up the same numbers next season he will still qualify as just that. Five stars for his defensive play is something you love to see from a 23 year old in just his second season and who will be relied on more and more as other guys age and he takes on a more prominent role.
At even strength, Mario shuts down his side of the ice and in front of goal about as well as one could hope. The chances just aren’t there for the opponents, but on the flip side, the even strength offense is also barren.
Aside from a short stretch late in the season, Marino was healthy and in the lineup which is more than you can say about quite a few of his teammates this season.
For the most part, Marino was paired with Marcus Pettersson this season which was expected since they played together much of the season prior. Injuries and some lineup shuffling may have occasionally seen Marino skating alongside a different face, but it was mostly Marino and Pettersson when both were healthy.
Great example of how smart defense can impact your offense. John Marino does his best Minkah Fitzpatrick on the pick and Matheson turns a bad pass into a loose puck battle that he wins right before the goal is scored. Smart stuff by both players. pic.twitter.com/M8xqD4mkhd— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) February 19, 2021
Caught this on a re-watch of yesterday's game. Late in the second period, loose puck race for John Marino. Not only does he win it, but he dekes between players and throws a no-look, reverse pass to Evgeni Malkin to facilitate a breakout. This kind of stuff is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/0nfwu625yu— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) January 19, 2021
Perhaps the expectations coming off that incredible rookie season were set a little too high for Marino, but overall it’s hard to be upset with his work this season. Sure the offensive numbers are not quite where people may expect them to be for a guy who plays his kind of style and is expected to take on a bigger role in the near future, but it’s very hard to argue against what he did on defense this season and it was valuable given how banged up the Penguins blue line was at times.
It’s also important to remember that last season Marino was just 23 years old and will only be 24 when the puck drops on the 2021-22 season sometime this fall. He was so good as a 22 year old, that perhaps fans were dreaming of Marino being a Norris threat year in and year out. It takes a truly special player to be that good each season and it’s fine if Marino still goes through some growing pains. Our only hope can be those growing pains are few and far between with his cap hit skyrocketing next season.
Something resembling a combination of his offense from 2019-20 and his defensive play for 2020-21 is about as ideal as you can hope for from Marino. If he puts a season like that together, his new contract which kicks in next season could look like one of the biggest bargains in the entire league.
A lot of what transpires on the ice next season for Marino may be dependent on circumstances outside of his control. For most of his career, he’s been paired with Marcus Pettersson who has been inconsistent and seems to have very little offensive upside. There’s a strong chance Pettersson could be dealt this offseason once the number crunching begins, meaning Marino will have a new blue line partner. If that happens and depending on who Marino’s new partner is, it could play a major role in how Marino performs next season.
Question to ponder
There are always going to be some lofty expectations when a player signs a fat new contract, especially before his entry level deal even expires. That will be the case for Marino heading into next season when his cap hit rises from less than a million dollars to over four million. With the salary cap not budging between this season and next, this increasing cap hit takes on greater implications for the Penguins and Marino will need to play up to that level to make his new contract worth the money and his spot in the Penguins lineup.
How would you grade John Marino’s 2020-21 season?
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