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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Is Patrick Maroon a long-term fit for the Edmonton Oilers?

Despite getting Connor McDavid’s long-term extension done early, the Edmonton Oilers are still going to have some tough contract talks to get through next summer. Among the toughest will be negotiations with Patrick Maroon, a pending unrestricted free agent who has blossomed into a serious offensive player during his time in Edmonton.

We’re talking about Maroon in this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday partially because the Oilers’ decision on the player needs to be made well in advance of July 1 of next year, and partially because there’s an argument to negotiate with Maroon right now.

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples argued for signing Maroon to an extension this summer in a piece written last month, noting that he expected Maroon to have a solid 2017-18 campaign for the Oilers, and that his “value will only go higher by next summer, and possibly much higher if [he is] a key contributor on a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.”

Staples added:

As for Maroon, players who score more than 25 goals per year tend to get paid big time in the NHL, so it’s not going to be easy to convince him to sign now when he’s looking forward to playing on Connor McDavid’s line this year. At the same time, Maroon could easily be on the third line much of this year and score just 15 goals. Might he be enticed to sign a two or three year deal at $4.0 million per with a no-movement clause? That would give him both the security of locking up millions of dollars and also the security of knowing he’s got a good shot of playing more with McDavid and perhaps locking up an even bigger deal in a few years.

The numbers may seem a bit steep for a player the Oilers got for a fourth-round pick and Martin Gernat, but recall that Maroon was signed to a three-year deal with a $2.0 million cap hit after a 2014 season where he had 29 total points. Last season he scored 27 goals, bumping Milan Lucic off the top line in the process.

It’s also true that players like this get paid. Matt Beleskey, a somewhat similar player, managed to turn a 22-goal crazy shooting percentage 2014-15 season into a five-year deal at just less than $4.0 million annually, a deal which also includes various no-trade provisions.

Locking Maroon up after one great offensive season is undeniably an aggressive approach. A more conservative one would be to wait and see. Maroon’s 27 goals last season represent just under half of his career total, and if he doesn’t spend most of the year with Connor McDavid that total could shrink dramatically. Given the presence of such options as Milan Lucic, Anton Slepyshev, Jussi Jokinen and Drake Caggiula at left wing, it’s entirely plausible.

The far other end of the spectrum is to simply accept that for cap reasons it’s going to be difficult to retain Maroon. Not long ago, this would have meant preparing for a midseason trade, but these days it’s more likely to mean keeping him for the playoff run and just making sure that potential successors get cameos on McDavid’s wing so there’s some familiarity there.

I’m in the “wait-and-see” category, mostly because I’m skeptical that Maroon is going to see a huge spike in value next season. I’m not totally sure that 27 goals is an outer marker for him at the NHL level, but I’m comfortable betting that it’s pretty close, and even if he does it again the performance is going to carry a McDavid caveat. I see some, but not much, upside to rushing, and significant downside if he falls off the top line and his numbers get closer to his career norms. Right now, I think he’s in pencil as a long-term piece, and whether the ink or the eraser comes out depends on next season and then his contract demands. If I had to make a prediction today, I expect we’ll see Maroon with the Oilers past next season on a contract with terms along the lines of what Staples described above.

As always, though, WWYDW isn’t so much about my views as it about yours. Do you think Maroon should stay with the Oilers long-term, or does the team need to use its cap space on other players?

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  • Ready to Win

    I like Maroon and I hope he stays, but I think if the Oilers spend the next decade endlessly guarding against McDavid’s wingers getting big raises they will end up crippling themselves.

  • D

    At this stage, keeping or parting ways with a player really comes down to salary cap and cost. Maroon would be an awesome long term fit for the Oilers, but if keeping him breaks the bank, then it is simply not feasible to do so.

  • Optos

    Maroon reminds me a lot of Eaves, keep him around, good player that can move up or down the line up and can score, not to mention his ability to have chemistry with McDavid alone is a reason to keep him. Having players that can keep up with McDavid is not easy (Lucic, Eberle).

  • A-Mc

    I’m of the opinion that he over achieved this year and wont be nearly the goal scorer next year. For this reason, i think we wait to sign him. he has a place on the team, but his contract needs to make sense for what he is long term and not what he was for 1 season.

  • Maroon is an integral part of this team and to McDavid’s success. No other player on the team last year had better stats with McDavid than Maroon. He’s everything you want in a player. His character is undeniable. He’s got hands, he’s intimidating, he fights and stands up for McDavid and other players, he knows where to go and he can skate. Fans love him. $4m x 4 years is most certainly a reasonable contract.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Yes, its likely a reasonable contract but, at the same time, I’m not sure its a contract we can fit in to our cap structure.

      I don’t think we’ll know until next spring when we find out what players such as Benning, Nurse, Strome, Caggulia, Slep, etc. will be making on their next contracts.

    • Jagrbaum

      Maroon will be 30 at the end of the next season, which is usually when NHL players of this generation start falling out of their prime. It’s not to say that he won’t be able to produce outside of 30, but it’s unlikely that he will be able to keep up to a $4M+ contract. Players of his type and size begin to slow down around this age range. So term as much as AAV is critical component of his next deal if it is here.

      I get the intangible discussion, he’s an awesome player, looks like a great person (and father) off the ice. I’m personally a big fan of his, but we also have many other considerations going into next year with the cap.

      The following players will need new contracts:
      Slepyshev
      Caggiula
      Pakarinen (i’m just assuming he won’t be back after next season however)
      Benning
      Nurse
      Brossoit/back up goaltender.

      Assuming we sign Leon to a $7.8M AAV or around there it will really come down to signing Maroon and trading Nuge or letting Maroon walk and keeping Nuge. Then looking forward, if Jesse has a good year how are you going to pay him?

      My point is, that while Maroon is awesome and it would suck to see him leave, isn’t what will win us the championship(s). It’ll be on how we keep our elite core Connor, Leon, Klef, Larsson, and Talbot surround with enough quality talent. Maroon is quality talent right now, but that’s also because he is really cheap. If we lose Maroon to free agency, it isn’t the end of the world because we still have that elite core. That’s what got Chicago and Pittsburgh their multiple championships.

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        I hate this kind of analysis only because it’s clear-eyed and fair and honest with a player who manages to play every heart string there is while putting up great numbers for low dollars.
        I hope Maroon makes the choice to sign/ not sign him damn difficult. He’s got exactly the kind of character you want in a winning team and I’d love it if he were around to see the Oilers go far in the play offs.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Maroon is more that just the incumbent goal scoring 1LW – Maroon is part of the team identity, the swagger, the team toughness, etc.

    I am torn on what to do with the Big Rig – On the one hand, I have come to the conclusion that we will have a revolving door of wingers for the foreseeable future and will need to rely on cheap value contracts where young wingers on ELCs and 2nd contracts who outperform their cap hit. Maroon does not fit in to this with his next contract (he does now).

    On the other hand, the part about the swagger, the toughness, the identity, etc. is real and I would hate to lose that even if his production can be replaced with a cheaper younger winger.

    I don’t know about re-signing him now, I don’t think his value will get any higher than it is now – coming off a near 30g season with so many goals at ES and something like 8 generally well-times meaningful fights.

    Its going to be a tough decision next summer unless he’s willing to take a material discount.

  • Hemi

    As much as the cap is the elephant in the room these days and for days to come, Paddy Maroon is one of those players that just fits the team to a tee. Player’s salary keeps heading Northwards so it could be a situation where you pay X amount now or pay X+ later. And then again, there is always the fact that he may want more than the Oil can offer. If that be the case then its cut time and manage the return to the fullest.

    Here is hoping he sees what a good thing he has going here and decides to sign a long term and reasonable contract. I agree with the poster, “Oil & Gas”, 4 X 4 would and should be good for both player and management.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Patrick Eaves had a good one-off goal scoring campaign and was thrilled to sign for $3.15M.

    I don’t think heavy term and money is needed. Make it a 3-4 year deal with lockout protection and he should be happy.

    If not I belive there are other options…

  • OilCan2

    Maroon is the poster boy for the New Oilers. Big, fast, mean when required and great hands when it comes time to put the biscuit in the oven. I’m in the wait and see crowd on the contract.

    JW has outlined all of the material facts in this case and it will boil down to Leon’s Deal and Cap $$$.

      • BornInAGretzkyJersey

        Or is it quick, not fast? He’s able to arrive at the right place at the right time, even if he doesn’t have the explosive first step… for a big man. They seem to get penalized for not “looking” fast where scrawny guys get credit. Hell, Leon was fastest in the team skills competition during his rookie year but everyone said he looked slow. The next year he gained the first step or two and “looked fast.”

  • geoilersgist

    I think you give him a Chris Kunitz size of contract. Before leaving the pens he was making 3.8/year. I think that is a pretty good idea of what Maroon should get. Kunitz on Tampa is only getting $2/year

  • llong33

    Maroon reminds me a bit of what Alex Burrows did with the Vancouver Canucks (Dear lord help me, I’m doing a Canucks comparison) but during the 2008-2012 season. Burrows put up 28, 35, 26, 28 Goals per season those years and his cap hit was around 3mill per I believe. Burrows was a lot more established and he was given top line duty with the Sedins to be a pest and that net presence. I see Maroon and Burrows having very similar roles and values though, Burrows was a lot more established at 27yrs old where Maroon is starting to come on at 29yrs old.
    If Maroon can put up another solid year of 20+ goals and maybe 50pts total. I would not mind signing him again but it wouldn’t be for longer than 3 yrs at 3.5 – 4 million range. There are other tangibles he brings, size, physicality, strength along the boards for cycling, hitting and wearing down defensive zone players on other teams, being a good locker room guy and etc. but you can’t play like this forever and at 29… players of this caliber start to wear down at 34-35. I’d be leery if he countered at 5 million and wanted 5 years. I would let him hit the open market but of course, this all depends on what Draisaitls contract comes in at.
    Don’t forget next summer 2018, we need to resign Nurse, Benning, Cagguila, Strome, Letestu. Good chunk of players who need to be resigned along with Maroon. Season after that, if Cam Talbot continues his stellar playing in the summer of 2019 we need to resign him as well, as his contract will be finished. Cap hell is coming…

    • The last dynasty

      Wow, never EVER compare Maroon’s game to Burrows’. Maroon fights (rather than being a turtle), hits and goes with ANYONE (instead of cheap-shotting anyone on the ice but only dropping mitts with the smallest players on the ice), has never bit anyone in a game… No comparison.

  • btrain

    I am in the wait and see category as well. Maroon has been fantastic and in many ways was a better Lucic than Lucic last season. However, I don’t think it is very common for a 29 year old to more than double his previous best goal output in a season. It has to be even more rare for a 29 going on 30 year old power forward to suddenly become a consistent 20 goal scorer in the NHL. My heart wants the Big Rig to keep rolling along but my mind tells me the miles are starting to add up and this optimal break in period will be short lived. I have also witnessed how quickly chemistry can come and go, which means Maroon could find himself off the top line in a hurry rendering him to a secondary offensive role not worth paying top dollar for. I think its a safe bet that he has another good but slightly regressed season in him, but beyond that, its a gamble. Nothing against Maroon but if you can’t get him cheap, then McDavid will just make the next guy rich anyway.

  • Oiler Al

    Let me put it another way: [IF] you could only pick one…… Maroon or Lucic, which would it be? My answer begs the question, why did Pete C sign Lucic.PS: I think Maroon can be as much of a leader in the DR as Lucic.

  • Rusty

    When you have the Leagues highest paid player and arguable best player on the planet you have a new set of problems. They are good team problems to have. One of those problems is filling out a roster with legit talent that want to win just as much as get paid. With Connor on your team your a threat evernight and talent will gravitate towards that. Add leon, Klef and Talbot and things look better. I want maroon on the team. he appears to have natural chemistry with connor, is a physical presence on the top line and appears to be well liked in the room and by the fans. But it goes both ways. Maroons next contract will be his “big” one. If hes going after 6 mill a year he wont be an oiler. But if he wants to be known at the end of his career as Stanley cup winner Patrick maroon he may take a reasonable conservative raise for the opportunity to play with the best player in the league. Its worth noting that the more on ice success he has the more sponsorship opportunities he will get as well. Sherwood dodge has him in commercials in Edmonton, i wonder how many sponsors he had in Anahiem?

  • Kr55

    There is value in chemistry. As much as Maroon is dependent on McDavid for his production, it can sometimes be really hard to find players that mesh as well as those 2 guys have.

    Still, I’m not sure how Maroon and his agent can’t realize that Maroon is probably a 10-15 goal man without McDavid. I hope the negotiation goes something like Sheary’s did with the Pens. Sheary wants to win, he knows he was gifted sweet minutes. He signed a really nice 3×3 deal giving up some UFA years. I actually think Sheary could still be a 50-60 point guy without Crosby, but he just never got a chance to show it. He didn’t seem to care though, and signed that nice deal.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    It’s up to the analytics! Whatever the analytics say it must be so!

    Seriously though, I’d love to see Maroon stay here long term but it depends on the ask. I would go more than double what he’s making now even if he scored another 27 this year.

    • DerpSolo

      Man your hilarious. Oilers aren’t stupid enough to bench a 27 goal scorer, but I’d imagine that’s something maybe the flamers would do. The only time maroon would be scratched is in the pre-season

  • RJ

    I think it depends on Lucic.

    Lucic has another season of underwhelming performance and you have to ask why you’d trade a superior player to keep Lucic. (Not superior over their careers, but certainly Maroon has been superior as an Oiler)

  • the reasonable person

    Mmmmmm-aaaaaaaaaaaaa-rrrrrrrrrrrrrr-oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Barry McOckiner

    Speed kills, especially during the playoffs. For that reason alone I’d pass on resigning him. Maroon was noticeable for the wrong reasons during the playoffs (to slow, penalties).

  • Big Nuggets

    couple thoughts on what Im reading in the comments..

    speed kills but you dont want to overvalue it. Speed gets you zone entries, McDavid takes care of that on the top line. The size of Maroon helps maintain possesion in the zone. Also there is value in javing a monster on McD’s line so retribution can be swiftly delivered, should anyone take liberties .

    You can’t teach size but you also dont have to work hard to be big, that is why some of the big players are often lazy, like Penner. This seemed to be the narrative for Maroon with Anaheim. He was getting uncomfortably close to 30 and overweight so he got dealt with salary retained. That is a low point for him. Now Maroon is working on a new narrative in Edm. He got a golden opportunity and started actually training hard to revive his career. This is why I think he is a good bet to match last years season. I dont think he trained hard earlier in his career but when people get close to 30 they start re-assessing their choices, that coupled with his golden ticket on McDavid’s line, and a role of protector of the greatest player in the game(not named Crosby). So now he has a niche space, he has a role that he want to fill on a team that he wants to be apart of.

    If we could lock him up for 3 years under 4 mil per I would do it today. He might price himself out of town though. Not sure how long until he regresses back to career norms but I think he has a few good seasons in him starting now.

  • Jaxon

    I’m not sure it’s a WWYD question as much as it’s a WWPMD. It may be a situation of what Maroon wants to do, and that may be to go back home to St Louis to be closer to his kid. Next summer represents the first time Maroon has ever been in control of where he plays. He may want to hit the open market and take a discount to play where he can be a more involved father. The Oilers can try to sign him, but he may want to wait until the season is over and see if St Louis is an option on July 1st. Plus, the Oilers may not be able to afford him no matter how much they want to keep him.