After pulling the trigger on a last-second deal with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, general manager Peter Chiarelli was hoping he had found the proverbial “diamond in the rough” in landing Patrick Maroon.
While he did pay what was deemed the going rate at the time, a bottom-tier prospect in blueliner Martin Garnet and a fourth-round selection in last summer’s Entry Draft, he was acquired for what amounted to next to nothing. Well, if the initial stretch of his Edmonton Oilers career is any indication of what can be expected from the American winger, Chiarelli may have his wish granted.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 26, 2016
While expecting Maroon to continue to score at the same 14 points in 16 games clip he closed out 2016 at would be rather ridiculous, the above tweet clearly demonstrates the 28-year-old is far from satisfied with his current lot in life. In the eyes of many, it seemed almost a foregone conclusion the fan favourite would be slotted behind both Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot on the left side but it appears as though no one let the Missouri native in on the secret.
Showing up to camp 25 pounds lighter and in arguably the best shape of your life tends to not go unnoticed.
Edmonton Has Been the Perfect Fit
Back in late March, I wrote in this very spot how impressed Todd McLellan was with what Maroon brought to the club since coming over from the Ducks and where he saw him possibly fitting in moving forward. While the addition of Lucic may have changed things to a degree, at least to start, the head coach’s expectations have likely not.
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I’d love to talk about that because he’s been a wonderful addition to our team. He has fit our locker room well and while he has been moved before…to come to a new team that will not be making the playoffs and leave a team that will be pushing to win the Stanley Cup, it’s not an easy thing but he’s really fit our room real well. He’s shown leadership skills that we need, brought in the proper attitude and that’s just off the ice. – Todd McLellan
Oilers coach Todd McLellan gushed over Pat Maroon, saying "he's been a wonderful addition to our team. He fits our locker room well."
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 28, 2016
When he puts the equipment on…he’s brought size, strength and the ability to be involved for teammates. He’s been able to score and he’s found a home playing with one of the best players in the world…and I’m hoping that will be a real motivating factor for him over the summer. There are some things he will need to do but I would like to play him on the left side with 97 to start next year but Patty will dictate how well that goes and how well it doesn’t…and I’m counting on him doing those things he needs to do. – Todd McLellan
Obviously, the organization was banking on the fact Maroon would use the chance at possibly skating on a line with Connor McDavid over the course of an entire NHL season as motivation to take his game to another level. However, in my mind, it was the notion of once again being afforded the opportunity of becoming a top-six regular that pushed him to show up in kind of condition he did for training camp. Playing with No. 97 would be great but lining up next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wouldn’t be such a bad consolation prize.
Maroon Can Play with Elite Linemates
Let’s not forget, this was a guy who went from the penthouse to the outhouse in short order prior to his departure from Anaheim and the whispers were all too familiar. The prototypical “inconsistent” player who owns a fairly unique skill-set but shows it on a far too inconsistent basis. How else does one explain going from playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to being a bit player or healthy scratch during much of 2015-16? This is a “what have you done for me lately” league and with not much of a track record to fall back on, it doesn’t take much for a player to find his way into his coach’s bad book.
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This despite putting together a playoff run to remember in 2015, scoring seven times in 16 games and playing a huge part in helping the Ducks push the Chicago Blackhawks to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. It’s not exactly a stretch to suggest Edmonton gave Maroon a new lease on life and his results, both on and off the ice, speak for themselves. Here is another little nugget McLellan delivered during the aforementioned scrum back in March that clearly tells us he believes in the player, and my guess is it did not go unnoticed.
I think he has incredible hands. On most of the teams he has played on, outside of the NHL, he’s been a top scorer and he has experience playing with elite players, in Getzlaf and Perry. So he understands how they think and maneuver and knows how to get into position. His success is not surprising to me…the surprise is that he didn’t have much earlier in the year. He had an incredible playoff last year but again, there are some things he needs to work on, which we will try and help him with, and if he does those I think he can improve even more. – Todd McLellan
Again, while this fan base fell in love with him from the moment he arrived in town playing that “hard-nosed” style of game so many of them not only demand but almost prefer to see from anyone who wears the Orange and Blue, you have to give Maroon credit. Instead of simply accepting his supposed lot in life as a third line guy, coming to Edmonton in the physical condition he did and in the frame of mind he appears to be in can only be a positive moving forward.
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has landed a #1 goalie (Talbot) and totally addressed the Oilers lack of size up front (Lucic, Maroon, Kassian)..
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) July 1, 2016
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From an organizational standpoint, viewing Maroon as anything more than a backup plan can no longer be the case. At this stage, his performance, albeit brief, and attitude suggest he should be looked at as far more than a depth player who could move up the ranks due to injury or if things don’t play out according to plan. The guy has earned his shot at securing a spot on one of the Oilers’ top two lines and no one should be surprised if he ends up doing just that.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.