The Oilers salary cap is currently $66.67 million. They have about $8.38 million in cap space, however, they have about a $1 million penalty from bonus overages last season, so they only have $7.38 million to add during the season.
They likely won’t have a cap penalty next season, and if the cap remained at $75 million the current space of $8.38 million will disappear with Connor McDavid’s extension, which is an $8.75 million increase from this season.
Peter Chiarelli will have some tough decisions next summer as restricted free agents Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, Ryan Strome, Anton Slepyshev and Laurent Brossoit need contracts, as well as unrestricted free agents Mark Letestu and Patrick Maroon.
On Friday, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reported preliminary talks between Maroon’s agent, Allain Roy, and Chiarelli have begun.
What would be a good deal for Maroon?
Maroon had a breakout 27-goal season last year and is looking to repeat it this year. “I’ve had to prove people wrong for ten years,” said Maroon.
While many believe Maroon’s breakout season was mainly due to playing with Connor McDavid, I’d argue the most important factor was Maroon’s newfound commitment. He decided to get in better shape and eat healthier, and he came to training camp last season 20 pounds lighter.
Playing with McDavid helped, of course, but if Maroon hadn’t dedicated himself in the off-season he wouldn’t have played alongside McDavid as often as he had.
In his only season in the OHL, Maroon tallied 90 points in 64 games, 28 points more than the second-leading scorer. In five AHL seasons he led his team in scoring twice, and was second was and fourth twice — his first two pro seasons.
Maroon has proven he can play with elite level forwards. He played with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. He never reached his full potential in the NHL, prior to arriving in Edmonton, because he simply wasn’t in good enough shape to play a full season on the top line.
The St. Louis native put in more work this summer. He trained properly, ate properly and came to camp with a body carrying the leanest muscle mass of his career.
Maroon finally put in the necessary work to become a consistent NHL player, and at 29 years of age it will be interesting to see if he can repeat, or even better, his 2016/2017 season.
He wants to stay in Edmonton and Chiarelli wants to re-sign him, but what is the right price and term?
It is difficult to find an accurate comparable. No two situations are ever alike, but very few players have a career-year at 28 years of age where they double their previous high in goals.
We can’t discount the McDavid factor either. With that in mind, I looked at some players who’ve played with Sidney Crosby, and Chris Kunitz’s name caught my eye.
Kunitz was an accomplished point-producer before playing with Crosby. Kunitz scored 25 goals and 60 points in 2007 with the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. He signed a four-year extension on August 27th, 2007 worth $3.75 million/season, but it wouldn’t begin until the 2008/2009 season. Before his new deal kicked in he produced 21-29-50 in Anaheim.
Sixty-two games into his new contract, he was traded to the Penguins for Ryan Whitney, and he won his second Stanley Cup four months later.
Kunitz was 30 years old in his first full season in Pittsburgh, 20009/2010. He played eight years with the Penguins and oddly enough his contract was always the same dollar figure.
He signed a two-year extension with the Penguins on October 13th, 2011. Again, it wouldn’t kick in until the following season. This contract was a two-year deal worth $3.75 million/year.
Kunitz was injured his first full season with the Penguins and played only 50 games, scoring 13-19-32. He played 581 5×5 minutes that year and 414 were with Crosby.
In 2010/2011 he played 66 games and tallied 23-25-48. He played 410 of his 773 5×5 minutes with Crosby. Crosby only played 41 games that season. He signed his two-year extension after that season ended.
In 2011/2012, Kunitz scored 26-35-61 in 82 games. He only played 116 5×5 minutes with Crosby, who dressed in only 22 games. Kunitz did play 675 of his 1083 minutes with Evgeni Malkin.
In the lockout shortened 2012/2013, he played in all 48 games and scored 22-30-52. He played 446 of his 641 5×5 minutes with Crosby, who played 36 games. Kunitz signed another extension after this season. This time it was a three-year deal, worth the same $3.75 million/season, but once again it wouldn’t start until the next year. He would be 35 when this deal began.
In 2013/2014, Kunitz scored a career-high 35-33-68 in 78 games. He played 1000 of his 1103 five-on-five minutes with Crosby.
In the three years of his final contract in Pittsburgh, at ages 35, 36 and 37, he scored 40, 40 and 29 points, and combined between 2015 and 2016 he played 1346 (62.7%) of his 2145 five-on-five minutes with Crosby. Last season he only played 194 of his 909 five-on-five minutes with Crosby. He started to slow down and Jake Guentzel emerged.
It is interesting to note Kunitz always signed an extension before the final year of his deal began. And he always had good seasons in the final year of his deal. Had he waited, would he have made more? If he didn’t sign prior to the season beginning, would it have weighed on him and possibly impacted his season? We will never know, but many productive players sign contracts prior to the final year of their deal.
While Kunitz never got a salary increase, he also never had a decrease, despite him being four and six years older than when he signed his original extension in 2007.
Kunitz was 29 years old when his first “big” deal kicked in. He had 21 goals and 60 points in the 2007 Cup winning season and signed his four-year deal.
Maroon will be 30 next year and he scored 27 goals last season. He could wait until this season is complete to sign an extension, but job security matters to some players more than others. He really likes Edmonton. He loves playing with McDavid, but he is aware if he doesn’t skate beside him he could play with Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It is a pretty good situation to be in.
Kunitz likely could have tested free agency and made more in the summer of 2012, after 48 and 61 point seasons, but he would have left Pittsburgh. Kunitz knew who he was as a player, and I sense the same from Maroon.
“I didn’t get faster this summer, but I got stronger and leaner. I can maintain my speed longer,” said Maroon when we talked on the third day of training camp. Maroon was noticeably leaner, but he’s 225 pounds, down only three pounds from last season. Weight isn’t the best indicator of being in better condition. “I didn’t train well enough my first few years,” Maroon said honestly. “The past two summers I’ve trained properly. And I’m eating much better. Nutrition is a huge factor, and I don’t want to waste my opportunity,” continued Maroon.
Maroon didn’t make excuses about his inability to remain on the top line in Anaheim. It wasn’t his skill level that cost him first line minutes, it was his off-ice preparation and dedication. It wasn’t at a first-line level, but the past two summers he’s put in the work.
“My goal was to come to camp in great shape and show the organization how dedicated I am. I want to be an Edmonton Oilers for a long time and I had to show them that,” he said on Monday, September 18th.
Maroon wants to be here. Chiarelli and the Oilers want him here and often that leads to a new contract. Very few negotiations are easy, but there doesn’t seem to be a large gap right now.
What would a fair deal look like?
Does a four-year deal at $3.725 million seem fair?
I understand those who suggest Maroon should play out the season. If he has another 27-goal campaign he could cash in. That is true, but it likely wouldn’t be in Edmonton.
He is comfortable in Edmonton. He’s worked hard to become a more consistent NHL player and the Oilers’ potential to win the Cup in the next four or five seasons will factor into his decision.
He could make more elsewhere, but it could mean a lower chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Each player has different goals. Some will focus on money, because there is no guarantee you can win, regardless of what team you play for. Your odds are higher on some teams, no doubt, but we’ve seen many really good teams never hoist the Cup.
I see Maroon’s deal being either a three or four-year pact in the range of $3.5-$4 million/season, depending on the term.
What do you think would be a fair deal?
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