“Patty is not traded.” Edmonton Oilers’ coach Todd McLellan felt compelled this morning to clarify for the nosy and curious that winger Patrick Maroon had not been traded on the occasion of him sitting out for a second straight morning skate with an undisclosed injury. McLellan did not include the word “yet.”
While I think it’s inevitable that Maroon gets a ticket out of town between now and the NHL trade deadline Monday because of how circumstances have unfolded, I can’t say I’m thrilled to see the Big Rig from the Show Me State on his way out the door. For my money, which doesn’t count against the salary cap, Maroon has been a bargain for the parts of three seasons he’s spent here, especially with the Anaheim Ducks picking up part of the tab.
Maroon, who’ll turn 30 April 23, has scored 49-37-86 in the 154 games he’s played (plus 3-5-8 in 13 playoff games) since coming over from Anaheim for a ham sandwich named Martin Gernat and a fourth-round pick in February 2016. Included in that, 27 goals last season. He’s a big man who can bang some and score some, and there’s going to be teams interested in those traits. As a UFA, he’s looking to get paid – something the Oilers aren’t/can’t willing to do, given the handiwork of GM Peter Chiarelli and the make-up of the team as it stands now. So, he’ll be gone.
Two factors are working against Maroon. First, he’s looking for a home run contract. Second, he’s a big, plodding winger and the Oilers have already invested in one of those in Milan Lucic. While adding size with Maroon and Lucic seemed like a good idea two years ago, the Oilers can’t have two hulks plodding up and down the wall with teams shifting to more of a speed game – especially when one of them already makes $6 million a season.
Since the start of last season, Maroon has scored 41-31-72, while Lucic has tallied 32-48-80. There’s not a lot to choose between the two in terms of performance and the traits they bring to the table, but one guy is looking for a big contract and the other has one for another five years that isn’t movable. So, one of them stays and the other, Maroon, is destined to move on. That’s the hockey biz. I wish Maroon well.
It’s no surprise Mark Letestu, 33, is the other UFA most likely to be moved by the deadline. Letestu has a reasonable $1.8 million ticket and he’s exactly the kind of player a team in playoff contention looks to add for depth down the stretch. He’s good in the circles, he can kill penalties and he’s got good hands – even though they haven’t produced this season like they did a year ago when he scored 11 of his 16 goals on the power play.
The other UFAs are buried blueliner Mark Fayne (thanks for coming), Mike Cammalleri, who makes only $1 million but likely won’t be re-signed and Johann Auvitu, who is 28 but makes only $700,000 and could be a nice depth option on the blueline. Might a contending team want a depth rental in Cammalleri or Fayne?
WHILE I’M AT IT
- Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Drake Caggiula are all 23 years old and all players I want to see more of in the games that remain to get a measure of where they might fit into the line-up next season. Is there room for two of them next season? All three? Khaira has averaged 12:40 in ice time this season. Slepyshev is at 11:38 and Caggiula is at 13:52.
- If you put any stock in chatter around the league, the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets might be the most likely landing spots for Maroon. I can see the Bruins looking to add the kind of toughness-skill combination Maroon brings in preparation for a Stanley Cup run.
- We’ve already filled 19 of the 20 teams we’ll have in the 2018 Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament May 11, so if you’re working at or own a company that would like to sponsor a team, you can find out about it here. The opening is in the 16-team men’s draw.