Peter Chiarelli’s trade to acquire Patrick Maroon is one of his best moves as Oilers general manager. Chiarelli saw an under-valued player and got Anaheim to retain salary. Maroon’s 82-game pace since coming to Edmonton is 27 goals and 46 points. And for only $1.5 million.
This decision would be easy if the Oilers were on route to the playoffs. Maroon would remain on the roster alongside Connor McDavid or Edmonton’s other talented centre and the Oilers would likely revisit a contract with Maroon in the offseason if his price comes down. Instead, the Oilers have to either trade or sign Maroon by the NHL trade deadline on February 26th. It’d be foolish to keep Maroon past then without a contract. But can the Oilers afford Maroon’s next deal?
Hockey Graphs’ Matt Cane has 2018 free agent predictions based on pro-rating a players current stats, an $80-million salary cap, and signing after the regular season ends. Cane’s predictions range from $3.8 million to over $5 million for Maroon’s next contract. Money Puck Systems has a calculator that forecasts what players are worth. They also estimate a $3.8/3.9-million cap hit on a three or four-year deal.
This is Maroon’s best shot at a giant contract. He’ll get three years, $3.5 million minimum, and probably more than that. Can the Oilers afford to have over $10 million combined to both Milan Lucic and Maroon? That’s a lot of heaviness on the left side, both of which will be over 30 by next season.
Maroon’s made the most of his time with McDavid. Does he put up 20 goals and 40 points without the Oilers captain? Maroon’s a bargain at his current price, but how much is he worth when 60% of his 5-on-5 time is with McDavid? He’s performed admirably in that spot but extending him means you’re now paying full value.
The Oilers should be getting quicker. They already have one lumbering winger signed long term. With $60 million committed to 13 players next season, signing Maroon means a very similar team returning in 2018-19. The Oilers need to make changes to this group, one of the NHL’s worst group of wingers. Maroon’s been an excellent fit for very cheap, but the difference between his next contract and a higher-scoring option should direct Edmonton towards the latter.
Edmonton needs to replace Maroon if they don’t sign him. They already downgraded on the wing last summer with the Jordan Eberle trade. Replacing Maroon’s ~40 points alongside McDavid should be easier.
It’s hard to see a team with both Maroon and Lucic coexisting long term. Both are entering their thirties and neither play on the penalty kill. Oilers fans would probably choose Maroon over Lucic considering the difference in money, but Lucic’s contract isn’t going anywhere. Maroon’s time in Edmonton is coming to an end.
The Oilers can recoup some assets with Maroon at the deadline. A second-round draft pick should be a realistic return. Last season, Brian Boyle was traded to Toronto for a one of their 2017 second-round picks. Maroon’s a more productive player, but Boyle plays centre.
Verdict: Trade. Maroon will make a nice addition for a playoff contender. His contract is cheap, he can play with good players, and he has good numbers in the playoffs. Edmonton got good value out of Maroon, but paying him market value doesn’t make sense.
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