"He amazes me," the Pittsburgh Penguins forward said Friday on Sportsnet's "Hockey Central." "I just love watching him play. The way he skates, the way he sees the ice, the way he creates space for himself - and that goes into his skating - is amazing."
Marleau spent two seasons in Toronto from 2017-19 and developed a close relationship with Marner. The seasoned veteran applauded the now-23-year-old for his hockey skills, but it's Marner's conduct off the ice that stands out to Marleau.
"He's kind of like Jumbo (Joe Thornton) in a way where he can have a great time and then flip that switch. As soon as he's on the ice it's all business," Marleau said. "He knows those different moments where he can relax and have some fun, but he's also very passionate and very focused on being one of the best players in the league and winning.
"A lot of people cannot see that part because they always look at the happy, the smiling, and that. But he's very focused and very committed."
Marner has been one of the Maple Leafs' best players since the team selected him fourth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He's amassed 83 goals and 208 assists in 300 career games.