Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Finding the next Patrick Maroon

The Patrick Maroon trade is one of Peter Chiarelli’s best trades. It’s a unanimous win for Edmonton: they gave up very little (Martin Gernat and a fourth round pick), got Anaheim to retain salary, and received a player who’s played in their top-six for $1.5 million a year.

Maroon has 56 points in 97 games since coming over to the Oilers, including 35 goals, which is in range of both Jordan Eberle (60 points in 100 games) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (47 points in 91 games), but at a much lower price than their $6 million cap hits. Maroon’s played with one of the league’s best, if not the best, players in Connor McDavid, a luxury RNH hasn’t shared. Eberle did, and his stats didn’t skyrocket as many expected.

Being able to complement stars like McDavid is a valuable skill, paying him free agent money lessens that. Especially with how tight Edmonton’s cap is.

The Oilers already have $60 million committed to 13 players for 2018-19, with Ryan Strome, Matt Benning, and Darnell Nurse needing new contracts. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is often seen as the next cap casualty, so it’s hard to see Edmonton signing a 30-year-old winger to a contract at just a couple million less.

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Instead, Edmonton should look for the next Maroon. McDavid is going to produce regardless who flanks him, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have done. The Oilers need the next forward who can put up 25+ goals beside Connor McDavid on a bargain contract.

I looked for forwards from the past two years who scored similarly to Maroon during his time with Anaheim (0.39 points per game), who had success in the American Hockey League like Pat Maroon did, and were around a similar age (24-28).

Maroon played very little his last year with the Ducks so I searched for possible under-utilized forwards who were either a positive possession player or slight negative, and then filtered it to players who could be available. Players who may make too much, but could be useful with retained salary, were also considered.

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Josh Leivo

Josh Leivo has 15 points in his last 25 NHL games, although those games were played over the past two seasons. Leivo hasn’t played much NHL hockey, but he’s young enough, scored well in the minors and in short stints with Toronto, and is a right-handed shot that would be a blessing for a team full of lefties in Edmonton. The Leafs have a glut of winger, although Leivo probably won’t see waivers, he seems like an ideal candidate to break out on a new team rather than play sporadically thorough another year.

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Leivo isn’t as proven as Maroon was, but the Leafs wouldn’t have to worry about him coming back to bite them either in division or conference. Leivo could be a cheap option to play with anyone of Edmonton’s skilled centers.

Brett Connolly

Apr 4, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller (20) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with Washington Capitals forward Brett Connolly (10) and forward Andre Burakovsky (65) during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chiarelli already acquired Brett Connolly once before during his last season as Boston Bruins general manager. Chiarelli paid two second-round picks for Connolly, and he was eventually left without a qualifying offer and became an unrestricted free agent.

Connolly signed with Washington and scored 15 goals while averaging 10:14 minutes a game. He’s another big forward like Maroon, who has a history of scoring in the AHL and might be under-utilized in his current role. It’s unclear whether Washington will give him more ice time this season, but Marcus Johansson was traded to New Jersey for salary reasons so there could be room for Connolly in the Capitals’ top nine.

The Capitals also signed Alex Chiasson, who averaged 13:23 a game in Calgary last season, to a professional tryout agreement. Connolly could be attractive as a right handed shot who could score more in a bigger role in Edmonton, and maybe a Chiasson signing makes it more available.

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Daniel Carr

Jan 24, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Daniel Carr (43) plays the puck during the third period of the game against Calgary the Flames at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Carr hasn’t scored like Maroon did in Anaheim, he only has 18 points through 56 NHL games, but he was a good scorer in the AHL and might hit the waiver wire in Montreal this season.

The cost could simply be a roster spot and a bet that Carr’s AHL success can translate into NHL scoring. Carr is on a cheap contract for the next two seasons and may be in tough to make the Canadiens roster with Jonathan Drouin, Ales Hemsky, and Peter Holland as new additions. Carr might be worth a waiver claim and some extended time with skilled players.

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Alex Chiasson

Apr 19, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames right wing Alex Chiasson (39) during the third period against the Anaheim Ducks in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Anaheim Ducks won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Chiasson is a few years removed from being a major piece the Jason Spezza trade. He’s not the player Ottawa was hoping for, but he’s still a useful top nine player.

Chiasson was traded to Calgary after a couple seasons with Ottawa and scored 12 goals and 24 points in 82 games before not being qualified. The Capitals signed him to a professional try-out, but things don’t always work out as we saw with Kris Versteeg and the Oilers last year.

Chiasson is a big winger who could provide proven scoring in Edmonton’s top nine, something Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev might not do.

It’s tough to see the Oilers fitting in a new contract for Maroon. Patrick Eaves was a player with modest scoring totals until last year and he got three years at $3.15 million per year after being traded to Anaheim. Maroon is younger and less injury prone than Eaves, but had a similar scoring surge later in his career. McDavid’s monster extension kicks in that season too, so the Oilers will need to make every dollar count.

  • OriginalPouzar

    None of those players listed really excite me.

    Is there any expectation that they should be able produce for value materially more than the incumbent, Caggulia, Slepyshev, JP, Stome?

    I would prefer to keep dry power vis-a-vis 2 open contract spots and see if there is a better fit on the waiver wire.

    • Shredder

      This is the point – you can’t have a player that excites you, otherwise you have to pay him much more. You gotta find a guy who knows how to skate to the net with his stick down, but otherwise hasn’t done much, and therefore his salary is low.

      Here’s hoping we find this player in our prospects (Caggiula?), or we have Lucic step up big time…finding these guys on other teams is a bit of a crapshoot, unless you’re an experienced scout.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    The reason the Maroon trade is such a win for the Oilers is because Patty brings a lot more to the table than scoring. He’s big. He plays in front of the net. He fights. He’s a big part of the new identity.

    Granted, he likely won’t be around next year, but looking at potential bargain forwards who may score is only half the challenge if you’re looking for the next Patty Maroon. Are any of these guys as tough as Patty? Do they play inside?

  • TKB2677

    I personally think that when it comes to Maroon, its him or Nuge. I don’t think a new contract for Maroon is costing you Nug.
    With McDavid being your #1 center and Leon needing to be your #2 center because of the contract and he’s just a better offensive center than Nuge. That means Nuge has to play wing at some point if he is to stay an Oiler because at 6 mill, you can’t afford to have in out of the top 6 for long. The advantages that Nuge has is he can play center, he is younger and can maybe do a few more things like kill penalties. But can he be effective as a winger? You lose out on size, physical play, edge, toughness and net front presence. I wonder if Nuge can be enough of a shooter and go to the net type that I think you need as a winger. I also think Maroon is more of a glue guy than Nuge and Nuge I think will be 1.5-2 mill more expensive than Maroon will be with a new deal.

    In Maroon, you would lose out on the size, physical play, toughness and net front presence that I believe you need in the NHL especially in the West. You lose out on him being a big part of the team internally, a glue guy. When you are playing with a McDavid and to an extent a Leon but especially with McDavid, you need to have wingers who give them the puck quickly then go to the net, be ready and too shoot quickly which is what Maroon does well and successfully well. I believe that was the problem with Eberle and why he didn’t work with McDavid. He liked to play with the puck, hold on to it and he didn’t shoot quickly. So I am not sure Nuge who’s been a center and used to having the puck can suddenly change his game completely and get rid of the puck and shoot quickly rather than be the puck carrier and passer. In Maroon, you will save on the cap as no way he gets 6 mill.

    • The Ghost of Alex Plante

      I disagree with this notion that you can’t have a 3rd line center at 6 million. Having a 3rd line center making 6 mil is not ideal, but with that comes some of the best center depth in the league. That is so valuable for matchups, injuries etc. that its worth paying Nuge more than he is worth. Is Nuge overpayed, yes, but the depth he provides is worth it to me. I’d rather have Nuge at 6 mil than Maroon at 4 mil. Maroon can be more easily replaced than Nuge can.

  • Speaking Cleary

    Big rig was a diamond in the rough. Chia hit it outta the park with that move for sure! Im not saying any of these guys play like Maroon but wonder if they could be decent adds for the right price. Anyone have time for Colton Sceviour, Devon Shore, Tyler Groavac or Jordan Weal?
    Also hoping Ty Rattie can rebound his career here

  • Jaxon

    I like Alex Chiasson and Jimmy Hayes for that type of player. Big bodies (6’3″, 208lbs & 6’5″,215lbs respectively), youngish (26 & 27). Both played NCAA in Boston, so Chiarelli should be familiar with them. Chiasson has been better recently, but Hayes is only a couple years removed from a 22 goal pace season where he got 19 goals in 72gp. If they’ve worked on their game/speed this summer, they could turn out to be real finds. Both are on PTOs right now, but 5 of 12 players signed after PTOs last fall, signed with a different team.

  • Roberto

    If Maroon would sign a similar deal to Eaves, 3 times 3.15, I think the right move would be to sign him, and cut the cap hits elsewhere. He doesn’t just score, he also protects McDavid. I’d be very hesitant to get rid of him.

  • madjam

    I would prefer Oilers look to trade for a younger possibly better forward to replace Maroon if he prices himself to high . Example : Trade for N.Ritchie – young and in same mode as Maroon with expectations he will further improve over what Maroon might do . I’d prefer to sign Ritchie at 4-5M longer term than have Maroon already at 30 at same price . In other words , I doubt Oilers can luck out getting a diamond in the rough to help an improving McDavid .

  • _MonsterPerformer_

    Just looking at CapFriendly quickly I’m wondering if we really have to worry about Maroon resigning?!?!? Obviously Fayne’s 3.65 won’t be on the books, along with Korpikoskis 1 million. I know we still have to consider new deals for a few RFA’s but I do think we have some room to work with regarding Maroon.

    Additionally, I think Maroon has to recognize his success is partially connected to playing with McDavid (maybe slightly more than partially). I’m hoping all factors are consider and reasonable negotiations occur.

    • Christian Pagnani

      I think it’s tighter than people realize.

      There’s $60.7 million committed to McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, Lucic, Kassian, Puljujarvi, Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera, Russell, Gryba. The good thing is that’s a sizable portion of the team, but that kinda limits the ability to improve the roster.

      I’m assuming all of their restricted free agents (Nurse, Benning, Strome, Caggiula, Slepyshev, Brossoit) come in around 11 million in total.

      The salary cap is $75 million this season. A modest increase of $2 million would still mean ~$5 million for a top six left winger and fourth line center. That’s doable, but that would mean bringing back the same team. Most assume RNH gets traded in an Eberle-like deal, but you’d still need a replacement center or wing depending if Strome can play the middle.

  • How about we just see if Maroon will take a discount to stay in Edmonton, play with McDavid, and win a few cups, instead of bolting at free agency to be an overpriced winger who will ultimately be bought out because he’s not quite as good as McDavid makes him appear.

    • The Ghost of Alex Plante

      I’m not so sure Maroon will get much in FA anyways. Everyone knows his production is a result of McDavid, so will teams throw money/term at him with that in mind? Maroon is valuable, don’t get me wrong, but he’s far more valuable in Edmonton than he will be on any other team because of his chemistry with McDavid.

  • toprightcorner

    My target would be Joe Colburne. Last year he had 8 pts in 62 games for the inept Avalanche. The year before that he had 19 goals and 44 points on the 3rd line, which was his 3rd full NHL season scoring 28 pts in each of his first 2 seasons. He also scored well in the AHL over 3 seasons.

    He is 6″5″, 220 lbs and is a decent skater for that size. He goes to the net and has soft hands.

    He is a UFA at the end of the year and after his terrible year last year, if Chairelli picks him up mid season, and he clicks with McDavid or Draisaitl, they can resign him cheap and have a 20 goal scorer.

    To me, Coburne has the makings to be the next Maroon, who struggled the year he was traded after a breakout season and playoffs. It will cost nothing to get him and McDavid can turn any average man into a superhero.

  • Geek freak

    Conner needs a trigger man with a wicked shot until he is strong enough to be the double threat point scorer Gretzky could never hope to be. Before you all loose your lunch after this statement, let us clarify, Gretzky was pimarily the ultimate set-up man and a back door scoring opportunist through out his early career years. If he did not have a pure trigger man, he probably would have a 3rd less points in his early career years in the record books as he did ( still really freakin good!). I think Conner could be better than Gretzky (adjusted for the dead puck era), if he can develop a goal scores shot, overtime, to become the all around offensive threat Gretzky could never be because of size and speed.. I think he currently think the game now, at the same level Gretzky did at his age, but plays against today’s NHL player, whom on average, also think the game at a very high level at a much younger age… In do not see a pure trigger man on the roster now, or, in the next couple of years.. however I believe this will not effect playoff chances or a possible cup, it will just mean Connor will never truely fulfill his pointental for the first 5 years of his NHL career!