This is one part of a player-by-player Year in Review series we’ll be doing over the next couple months as we look back on the 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers season.
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers No. 19: Patrick Maroon
GP: 57, G: 14, A: 16, PTS: 30
Traded to the New Jersey Devils for JD Dudek and a 2019 third-round pick
I don’t think Patrick Maroon ever got the credit he deserved in Edmonton. Don’t get me wrong, he was certainly endeared by the fanbase as a favourite for a variety of reasons — his underdog, late-bloomer storyline, his laid-back personality, and his big, physical, workmanlike play on the ice — but the narrative surrounding Maroon was that he was simply a byproduct of Connor McDavid.
Peter Chiarelli acquired Maroon back at the 2016 trade deadline in exchange for a nothing prospect in Martin Gernat and a fourth-round pick. Though it wasn’t really thought of at the time, after the Oilers signed Milan Lucic in free agency that summer, it became somewhat inevitable that the team wasn’t going to be able to keep Maroon around long-term.
After a solid season in which he posted 14 goals and 30 points in 54 games, Maroon was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline in exchange for middling prospect JD Dudek and a third-round pick that the Oilers later flipped to the Philadelphia Flyers for Cooper Marody. It certainly wasn’t an exciting return for a high-quality winger, but it was better than letting Maroon go for nothing at the end of the season.
He was acquired back in 2016 as a nice, buy-low depth player, but after his breakout season alongside Connor McDavid, it became difficult to envision the Oilers fitting him into their increasingly-tight cap picture. While the Oilers paid Lucic handsomely to be their big, top-six winger who drove offence, it was actually Maroon who became that player.
Looking up and down Edmonton’s roster last season, Maroon was the team’s best offence driver not named Connor McDavid. He was a player who, when put with somebody, helped make them better at producing offence than they were otherwise. For all the talk about how McDavid made Maroon, the numbers indicate that Maroon was perfectly capable of driving offence in virtually any situation with any centre he was put out with.
Of course, Maroon did get a massive boost playing with McDavid. Everyone does. But the idea that Maroon was some scrub who just showed up and put his stick on the ice in front of the net while McDavid danced around and did everything isn’t accurate. Maroon, during his time with the Oilers, was one of the team’s better drivers of offence on his own merit.
In 2017-18, there was one player who had a positive goals for differential at even strength playing without McDavid. That was Patrick Maroon. When together, McDavid and Maroon put up a respectable 52.0 Goals For percentage, meaning they scored 52 percent of the total goals while on the ice. Maroon, when on the ice with anyone other than McDavid, had a 53.8 GF%. Everyone else on the roster other than Maroon was worse without McDavid than they were with him.
Beyond that, Maroon also made other players on the Oilers better. When Maroon was with Leon Draisaitl, the two had a 61.1 GF%. When Draisaitl was with anyone else, he had a 54.5 GF%. Maroon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a 50.0 GF% together, RNH had a 48.3 GF% without Maroon. Ryan Strome and Maroon had a 71.4 GF% together, Strome had a 47.62 GF% without Maroon.
I think Maroon’s departure leaves a bigger hole on the roster than most anticipate. While a big concern seems to be finding the ideal winger to play with McDavid, Maroon has been one of the few wingers on the team who could successfully play without McDavid. Not having Maroon on the roster isn’t something that’s going to sink Edmonton’s season by any stretch. Still, the team badly needs a young winger like Jesse Puljujarvi or Kailer Yamamoto to take a step forward and drive play without McDavid on the ice in order to fill Maroon’s larger-than-appreciated shoes.