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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to the season question 13: What would Maroon extension look like?

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?

COMPARABLES

May 5, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon (19) pushes Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Kerdiles (58) after a save by goalie Cam Talbot (33) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

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?

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Samesame

    tons to love about what patty brings to the table for us. but we probably cant give him what he wants

    after a 27 goal campaign, his agents are prob asking 4×4. if he gets over 20 again, they’ll prob ask for even more. cant do either of those (although I’m scared chiarelli will blow his wad as he often does.

    3×3, mayybbee 3.5 is the absolute tippy top of what we can offer. or we go and look for other cheap comparable options elsewhere.

    • oilerjed

      If they can get him for 3 mil I would sign him for an extra year, maybe 2, as well. That would be the value contract that is badly needed to keep this team together throughout a good chunk of the McDavid era

  • shaner

    4×3.75?

    Seems fair but I want him on the oilers. Has a great skill set, can finish, sticks up for teammates and has passion.,…loved this pickup from Anaheim.

  • TKB2677

    I am a big Maroon fan but if he wants more than 4, you have to let him go. Eaves had 33 goals, 51 pts and just signed for 3.15 mill with the Ducks. I don’t see how he can ask or expect a lot more than that from the Oilers. This isn’t intended to be a shot because I believe Maroon is a good player but if he’s not playing with McDavid, I see him as maybe a 20 goal guy tops.

    So I believe it will come down completely to Maroon and what he wants. If he wants north of 4 mill, he will have to leave Edmonton and I think a team will give it to him because all teams LOVE big guys that can score and the fact he’s a good guy in the room makes him even more desirable. If he wants to stay in Edmonton a place he likes playing, if he wants to continue to ride shot gun with the best player in the world, if he wants to have his role be what it is not and know he will have success and be on a winning team with a legit shot at winning a cup real soon, he has to take less to stay in Edmonton.

  • tileguy

    What is his family situation, the most important factor of them all? I am under the impression the wife and kiddie are in St Louie, if so, my guess is it will take more money to keep him here than elswhere.

  • bwar

    $3.75 million? That’s cute. You do remember Lucic just got $6 right? The number is $6 million and anything less after the Oiler’s recent contracts is an insult. There are no hometown discount’s in Edmonton just hometown overpays. I just don’t see how they get him signed.

    • Copper

      I agree. PC tends to over pay $ and term AND throws in full NMC. Gregor failed to included ELC bonuses in article and with more on the way and several other RFA, Oilers need value contracts. Just like Maroons is currently

      • Jason Gregor

        Copper…which player do you think will reach his “B” bonus, which is the major bonus, in the coming years? If Yamamoto or Puljujarvi hit their “A” bonuses they will then make $1.775 million and would have needed to scored 20 goals and 35 points. So 55 points and making $1.775, the Oilers would love that.

        In order for either to reach their “B” bonus they would have to finish top ten in league scoring, or top-ten in goals or assists. Do you think either will reach that? Highly doubtful. Draisailt had an incredible year, and considering his skill and McDavid it would be rare to see three players with 75 points on one team.

    • GriffCity

      What are you talking about dude? Maroon just came off a career high in pts – 42, Lucic had 5 season at 50 pts+ and has won a cup before this contract. You don’t get Lucic money after one 42 pt season playing on McDavid’s wing.

    • Mc🙏

      Lucic was also an overpay by .5million, but needed to in order to bring him in to change the culture, which after 103pt season, seems to have been successful. Also dont have the exact number, but lucic career pts/game is something like .5-.55, over his entire career. Maroon has one really good season, 42pts. So 3.5mill is actually about what he deserves.

  • RyanCoke

    How bad does the 4×4 for kris Russell look now. This is coming from someone who likes him and would like him to stay. I would love for maroon to stay but it seems unlikely if he wants to get paid.

    • Jaxon

      I think Russell gets bought out next summer. When Oilers need the cap space next summer his buyout cap hit will only be $611k. 2020-21 will be a tough cap hit of $3.6M, but Fayne, Kassian, Letestu will be off the books, the cap will probably be around $81M ($6M higher) and they’ll be going into a lockout. If there is no season or a shortened season or they can negotiate getting buyouts off the cap for that season, then Chiarelli has found a decent out. And that one year at 611k may have been the deciding factor in giving Russell a overpay in $ and term and NMCs. It might allow them to keep Nugent-Hopkins.

  • Yelak

    I would rather offer the extra term and keep the cap a bit lower. He is only 29 and seems to be in the best shape of his life so another 4-6 good years doesn’t seem like a stretch. The players that would center him are signed for long term (macdavid, draisaitl) so not much should really change if he can stay consistent. If he wanted to get 4 years and was willing to take 3.5-3.75 I would sign that deal today. If it is a short 1-2 year deal and looking for 4-5 mil that would be a lot worse as oilers need every bit of cap savings they can the next couple years. Here’s hoping something can get worked out soon as he seems to be a perfect fit for this team.

  • ScottV

    I would put Lucic back with McD, to see what that looks like.
    Drai with Maroon and if he doesn’t miss much of a beat, you really have something. My guess – still good but now we keep the new contract reasonable.
    Over doing McD – Drai last year, not only got us in the playoffs, as some of us predicted – but cost a couple million extra between those two contracts.

    • Hemi

      Over doing McD – Drai last year, not only got us in the playoffs, as some of us predicted – but cost a couple million extra between those two contracts.

      The above may be true enough but getting into the playoffs and advancing as far as the team did…..don’t you think it was worth it?

  • Oiler Al

    Why should Maroon take a cut when slugo Lucic is overrpaid by $2 mil. and even nuge isnt worth $6 mil., not to mention Sekera and Russell. As much as Maroon likes to be here the Oilers cant afford him unless theyt move some contracts first.

  • OldOilFan

    3x$3.25M at most. Maroon played well last season BUT he tailed off towards the end – partly because other teams were ready for him by then. They will be ready from October onward this time, unfortunately. As for being a unique or rare player, I don’t think he is. Lucic could easily slide up to 1LW and score 25. I foresee the Oilers searching for a cheaper replacement rather than commit $10M to Maroon. It’s gonna happen to other players too, there’s no way around it: Two centers’ combined salary is $21M on this team. After those two, plus a couple of $6M men, you can’t have a lot of $4M men. There’s just not enough money to spread around. The bottom half of the team will need to be composed of guys making $1M-$2M.

    • GriffCity

      I agree that value contracts are needed but look at PIT – Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Kessel, Schultz, Hornqvist, Dumoilin, Maata & Hagelin, all at 4 Million+ with Crosby & Malkin taking up as much cap space as McDavid & Drai. So it is definitely doable, just likely not while keeping Nuge and with the other contracts coming up, could lose Sekera too.

  • themightypeace

    I think quietly signing Kassian to a 3 year $1.75 million per season contract was the best move the Oilers made this year.

    Kassian makes a nice cheap insurance policy if Maroon becomes too expensive relative to the Oiler’s cap space for the 2018-2019 season. Kassian might not have Maroon’s scoring touch, but he can do all of the heavy physical work expected of Maroon … get in the corners, screen infront of the net, and give the stink eye to anyone who messes with McDavid. Maroon might be more optimal, but a line consisting of Kassian-McDavid-(insert name of sharpshooter here) line would be A-OK

  • WillyWonka

    Easy… the market for a 1st line winger with 27 goals is about 6 million per.. give him term to bring it down to 5 million I.e. 5m x 5yrs… unless you dont beleove he isba legit top winger