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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What to expect from Pat Maroon?

Happy long weekend Monday, fine citizens. May your day go by quickly if you’re stuck working and, if not, something to read while you wait for an acceptable time to crack a beer. The mailbag is here to help you pass a little bit of time and get you closer to wherever you want to be. As always, this feature is completely dependent on you guys. If you’ve got a question you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or DM on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Until then, enjoy another free lesson from our stable of writers.

Apr 20, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;Edmonton Oilers forward Patrick Maroon (19) passes the puck in front of San Jose Sharks defensemen Brent Burns (88) during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Trent asks – Before coming to Edmonton, Patrick Maroon had 26 regular season goals. Last season alone he scored 27. Do you think he can maintain this new pace? What do you expect from the Big Rig for the 2017-18 season?

Jason Gregor:

Maroon has played very well for the Oilers. He had instant chemistry with McDavid after the trade and scored eight goals in 16 games.  His confidence combined with him getting in better shape led to his career year last season. Maroon is a very skilled offensive player. He was first or second in scoring on his team in junior and in the AHL most years. He has great offensive instincts and quick hands for a big man. I see him scoring 23-28 goals again this season.

Lowetide:

It really depends on how much he plays with Connor McDavid. I would compare his situation with that of Blair MacDonald back in 1979-80 when he played with Wayne Gretzky. Maroon is an excellent complementary player who has real chemistry with McDavid, so 25-30 goals seems reasonable. I think his next contract will be a difficult one for the veteran winger. Teams will be offering big money and a once in a lifetime payoff. Does he go for it or play with McDavid for less money? Tough call.

Robin Brownlee:

I think he can but I don’t believe he will. His shooting percentage since joining the Oilers has been 20.5 and 15.2, well above his previous seasons. I see Maroon as a 22-25 goal guy over a full season in 2017-18.

Cam Lewis:

Obviously playing alongside Connor McDavid is going to make anybody better, but Patrick Maroon deserves some credit too. He came into 2016-17 in better shape than any point in his career and was able to drive play more effectively because of it. Also, his advanced stats suggest he wasn’t just a passenger, as he improved other teammates’ shot attempt numbers when playing without McDavid. There’s no reason to assume in a healthy season Maroon can’t hit 20 goals again.

Chris the Intern:

I think for sure he can maintain that pace. If he is paired with McDavid he’ll be unstoppable.

Baggedmilk:

If Patty is riding shotgun with Connor then he can definitely hit 25 goals again. Patty knows that the line he played on was a big help in getting to his career highs and he basically admitted it in the article I wrote on Saturday. It seems like they have some nice chemistry together and I wouldn’t bet against it, but you never know if he’ll stay on that line or not. So here’s my answer: IF Pat Maroon stays with Connor all year then I’ll say yes he can get there. If not, I don’t think so.

Mandatory Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

2) Oilers fan in Van asks – Do you think the Oilers will be able to improve their power play without the presence of a big shot from the point? I feel like teams were catching on to what the Oilers were trying to do towards the end of last season because the shooting options are limited.

Jason Gregor:

The numbers don’t match what you feel. In their final 14 regular season games last season they went 15-for-48 (31.25%), meaning they were actually better down the stretch than their season long 22.9% average. And Klefbom has a very good shot. The truth is you don’t need a cannon of a shot to have a successful powerplay. It is a nice asset, but the best power plays run through guys on the half wall instead of just firing from the point. The most effective PP’s last season were not focused on a big shot from the point. The closest is Washington and Ovechkin, but he sets up anywhere on his off wing and often near the top of the circle, not at the blueline.

Lowetide:

Once the team got the power play straightened out heading toward Christmas, it was absolute fire. I think they’ll be fine, and may try Matt Benning in the Sekera role until the veteran returns. I’m more concerned about the penalty kill.

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers, and every team, need the threat of a shot from the point to stretch the box toward the blue line rather than allow defenders to collapse down low. Can Matt Benning be that guy?

Cam Lewis:

They had the fifth best power play percentage in the league last year and, well, the numbers indicate that it got better with time. You don’t necessarily need a big shot on the power play, though it would add another element to the team.

Chris the Intern:

I think they’ll be okay. Kelfbom and Larson’s shots will only get better from here on out. They’ll handle the pressure.

Baggedmilk:

I really wish they had a big shot from the point. Imagine what it would be like if Connor also had a guy like Sheldon Souray to use as an option. I think Klefbom has a solid shot and could be a decent stop gap, but I think Chiarelli would still have that PP guy on his wish list.

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli makes the Oilers pick of Connor McDavid (not pictured) in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

3) Michael asks – I was wondering what you think Pete will do with his cap space this year? Do you think there is a chance he goes after a massive fish like a Tavares (should he remain without a contract) at the deadline this year?

Jason Gregor:

He will be patient. I’d be surprised if Tavares is a target, because he’d still cost a lot at the deadline and there is no chance the Oilers could afford to re-sign him. I could see them looking at a James Neal at the deadline, but it will depend how the team is playing and which area Chiarellie feels they need to improve. They still don’t have a lot of depth outside their young NHL roster, so I’m not sure this is the year he pushes all his chips in and adds multiple players, but much will depend on how good they look at the deadline. Keep in mind the Oilers cap is only $74 million, they have just under $1 million in cap penalty from last year. They still have a lot of cap space, but when we reach the deadline it is important to remember their cap is right around $74.1 million, not $75 million.

Lowetide:

I don’t see a big free-agent addition to the team next summer. The Oilers have a plethora of RFA’s, including Matt Benning, Darnell Nurse, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula and Ryan Strome. There’s also a free agent group that includes Patrick Maroon and Jussi Jokinen.

Robin Brownlee:

No chance. None. Can’t add add the size of contract Tavares will demand to the deals Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl just signed.

Cam Lewis:

The Oilers don’t have the cap room to acquire another big fish from here on out. With McDavid and Draisaitl coming in it $21 plus, guys like RNH, Sekera, and Lucic getting paid $6 million, the only additions Chiarelli will be able to make in free agency will be minor. Eventually Maroon, Caggiula, Benning, Nurse, Puljujarvi, and so on are going to need new deals. I said when Drai and McD signed that it wasn’t those two that would put Edmonton into cap hell, it would be generous contracts to auxiliary players handed out in free agency in the future that could sink them. Furthermore, the difficulty with rentals is that Edmonton needs to consistently be filling the team with new, cheap, young players, making it difficult to deal draft picks at the deadline. There’s going to be a lot of ride or die with this group.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly I kind of hope something like that happens. I can’t see it, but if we’re in a position to push for the cup and we have the cap space, why not?

Baggedmilk:

I bet he’ll go fishing for some free agents around the deadline but I can’t see him spending the assets required to get a guy like Tavares. I think the moves would be bigger than Davidson for Desharnais, but not as big as whatever it will take to get a huge fish.

May 10, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) reacts during a stoppage in play against the Anaheim Ducks in the third period in game seven of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4) Socaldave asks – Do you think the Oilers are doing enough on a daily basis to raise Connor McDavid’s profile? I live in L.A. so my daily intake of NHL news is restricted mostly to the NHL network on XM on the drive to work and surfing Oilersnation during the day. On the NHL XM channel, there is SO MUCH Matthews PR on commercials between segments. I 100% get it with the East Coast bias and all, but it sure makes me wonder if the Oilers have a dedicated person/team working day and night to get McDavid and the Oilers, for example, into an outdoor game every year. Not everyone is going to see the cover of a video game, so I think the team needs to do more. Any thoughts?

Jason Gregor:

To be honest I’ve never thought much about it, but that channel is based out of Toronto and they cater to who they think is their biggest audience, Toronto fans. The NHL decides who plays in the outdoor game, and you will notice the Oilers have 37 National games on TV this year. The NHL knows McDavid is a massive draw and he will be promoted a lot. I wouldn’t worry about too much Matthews on a channel based out of Toronto.

Lowetide:

I’m not sure the organization has a lot of control over Los Angeles. He is saturated here and it’s well earned. Connor McDavid’s talent and brilliance is his brand, and Auston Matthews appeal has a lot to do with where he was born. Hockey fans know who Connor McDavid is and who Auston Matthews is, there’s no real rivalry I can see.

Robin Brownlee:

McDavid is the best player in the game. Over time, there is no better way to raise a profile than that. I don’t care how much the radio Johnnys pump Matthews. Outdoor games? Too many of them now.

Cam Lewis:

The Matthews thing largely comes down to him being the new, hyped American star player. There isn’t much the Oilers as a franchise can do to make people outside of Edmonton care about their player just because he’s good. Really, the only thing they can do is win it all, and then I guess he’ll get more coverage in different markets because that’s when they start to pay attention.

Chris the Intern:

Yes they are, but I really don’t think anyone needs to try and raise his profile, everyone will come to him with opportunities. I’m sure Connors agent has dedicated his life to the McCareer.

Baggedmilk:

That’s an interesting question. You would think that the Oilers could make more money as Connor’s star grows so I don’t know why they wouldn’t market him as much as possible. I wonder if they’re trying to push Matthews so much because he plays in the biggest market in the NHL. Matthews is not as good as Connor but the Leafs are still making bank on him.

Dec 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) stands in between Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (98) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Oilers, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

5) Andy asks – What do you expect from Jesse Puljujarvi this season? What would be a reasonable points total in your minds?

Jason Gregor:

He is a major wildcard for me. If he isn’t ready to play consistent top-nine minutes in Edmonton, then I’d gladly play him in the AHL and hopefully for the Oilers he rips it up. He wasn’t a massive point producer prior to being drafted, and if he becomes one I think it occurs in a few seasons. He needs time to develop and I caution those who expect huge offensive totals right away just because he was the fourth overall pick. I sense he will be more of a late developer. I’d guess he scores 20 points in Edmonton in around 60 games.

Lowetide:

I expect he’ll be in the NHL most or all of the season, scoring 10-15 goals and playing a regular shift on RW (possibly third line).

Robin Brownlee:

Depends, of course, how high in the line-up he plays and how many games he plays. In a full season I’d consider 35-40 points a nice step forward.

Cam Lewis:

Hopefully he can play an entire season and pot 20 goals. That seems to be the hope that he can fill up a decent chunk of Jordan Eberle’s offence. That said, Puljujarvi is a massive wild card, and he could catch fire and become a star player on the first line or he could look completely lost and spend most of the year in the AHL. Nobody knows.

Chris the Intern:

IF he can maintain his lineup spot all season I would love to see 40 points from him. I truly believe he’ll be a huge asset to the team, it’s just a matter of when it will happen.

Baggedmilk:

I think he’ll land somewhere in the 13-16 goal range with 25+ assists. One thing people need to remember is that he didn’t have a full summer to train last year, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that he’ll be better. If the Oilers can get him on the ice in softer minutes then he could have himself a solid season.

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  • Mitch92

    I like what Maroon brings to the Oilers. CMD is clearly more comfortable playing with big strong linemates who can take care of the heavy lifting while he provides the magic. Patty will be a perennial 25 goal scoring playing with a healthy CMD. What Patty is not is a guy who will pick up the slack if CMD goes out of the line-up for any extended period. That responsibility would fall straight to Leon Draisaitl.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’d like to see Nurse at the point on the pp. By eye he has a good hard shot that developed more could be what the team needs. Run him and Klef on the 2 pp lines.

    I’m not saying put Nurse out for Klef mins this year, but definitely use him as an option in different situations. 25 will surpass Benning, and I really like Benning, in the top 4, just watch.

    • OriginalPouzar

      I’m not sure Nurse is a great option for the PP. Yes, he’s got a decent shot but I don’t think he’s got great offensive instincts and he’s no a very good distributor of the puck (that is one area I’m in his game that I’m hoping improves materially over the next few years). PP is about making good/quick/smart plays and that’s an area of Nurse’s game that requires improvement, the one area of his game that might hold him back from reaching his potential (hockey IQ).

  • Oil4Brains

    Only way John Tavares becomes an Oiler if Nuge goes to NYI which is highly unlikely. Would perfer if Pete could continue to turn loose change from the couch to gold like Maroon & Kassian.

  • Oil4Brains

    JP has never been a prolific scorer. Fans seem to think he is only because he was always part of the conversation with Liane & Matthews during the 2016 draft. I’ve yet to see this great shot fans claim he has. His greatest asset is his size & strength but if he don’t go to the tough areas and play an aggressive game I can’t see him sticking with the Big club. I fear he will score less than 10 goals & fans will be disappointed again this yr.

  • WillyWonka

    Patrick Maroon,
    already a player that is moving out of his prime, scores a couple goals more in one season with Conner than he did in 6 years at Anaheim while in his prime, his shooting percentage in Edmonton last year was at 20%, more than 3 times his average over his years with the ducks.
    I am guessing that he will be able to continue to score significantly more than he did in Anaheim, but feel it is more likely going to be in the 20 goal range now that there is book on the line.
    If however Conner experiences an injury and Maroon has to play with someone else, i would put money on Maroon dropping back to his career averages over night. there is no way he scores at 20%, no way he scores 5 to 8 times his historical averages, without McDavid feeding him.

  • Spydyr

    McDavid cleaned up at the NHL awards. The people that matter know how good he is. I could give two craps what Joe fan in the southern markets think of McDavid. We know what we have here.

  • Spydyr

    Why are people concerned about replacing Eberle’s offence? It was replaced the day he left. When goals for from Eberle’s point production are balanced against a goal against caused by Eberle defensive mistakes and shortcomings. The team is already ahead.

  • The Chad

    Some of you(Brownlee) did not read or answer the Tavares question correctly. Of course they will not be able to sign him as free agent. The question was whether they could grab him at the deadline in a rental type situation to help with the playoff run. The acquisition cost would probably too high but its an interesting thaught

  • Geek freak

    Bit off topic here, but I need oilnation help. I cut the cord this summer and need to make sure I have the best online package to watch as may oilers games this year. Any suggestions??

    • OriginalPouzar

      Depends on where you are.

      If you aren’t in the Oilers viewing region then Rogers GameCenter.

      I love GC – it was a savior for me as I was in Hawaii for most of the first round and in the US for various parts of the season.

      I will be on Hong Kong over Christmas and have intel from a colleague that it works fine there (likely not in mainland China).

    • OriginalPouzar

      Depends on where you are.

      If you aren’t in the Oilers viewing region then Rogers GameCenter.

      I love GC – it was a savior for me as I was in Hawaii for most of the first round and in the US for various parts of the season.

      I will be on Hong Kong over Christmas and have intel from a colleague that it works fine there (likely not in mainland China).

    • DiscoBiscuits

      I don’t know about the best, and I’m really reluctant to give free advertising to Rogers, but I didn’t regret signing up for SportsNet Now for a couple months. I think it was something like $25 a month, I could pick from whatever was currently on any of the SN channels, and I was able to cancel my subscription with a few mouse clicks, so it was really hassle-free.

  • JimmyV1965

    Oilers PP was fire at the end of the season. As long as we trot out Drai and McDavid, the Oil will have one of the best PPs in the league. A cannon from the point would be great, but as long as we have a dman who can get the puck through, we have enough skilled big guys in front of the net to make things happen. RNH heading up the second unit PP is huge as well. He’s a legit threat on the PP and makes the second unit very dangerous as well.

    • JimmyV1965

      I’m not so sure about Auvito. He was released by the Devils, who have one of the worst defence groups in the league. He was a healthy scratch in the AHL playoffs as well. I’ll be surprised if he’s in the organization this time next year.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Are we allowed to have conversation about the realistic potential of the bubble players to contribute to the team this year or are we only allowed to post about a guy like Auvitu if its with unbridled enthusiasm?

  • camdog

    Oscar Klefbom has a big shot from the point. There are only like 10 d-man in the league in the league with an elite shot. And there is a group of 10 that still have a bomb. Oscar’s in that group.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Oscar did a great job last year of learning to use his shot more – he was clearly focussed on shooting more as the season progressed and it resulted in an offensive spike.

      He didn’t get the opportunity on PP1 until about half way through the season and his previous PP experience at the NHL level was limited. He should be better on the PP this year as well.