On Feb. 29, 2016, the Edmonton Oilers traded for Patrick Maroon as management quietly made what looks like one of the better Oilers trades in recent history. Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for prospect Martin Gernat and a 2016 fourth-round pick, Maroon went from a team where he was a smaller fish in a big pond of forwards to an organization ready to give a gritty forward with some talent an opportunity. He fit the mold of a Peter Chiarelli-type player, but to fans in Edmonton, he was relatively unknown.
Maroon’s career in Anaheim was still relatively young, but also average at best. His highest scoring season was a 34-point campaign in 2014-15. He played a big game, used his sized and was difficult to play against; he was always willing to stand up for his teammates. Those attributes made him an immediate fan favorite in Edmonton. He plugged in alongside Connor McDavid and went to work, being one of the most effective Oilers at the end of their disappointing 2015-16 season.
Maroon wound up with eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 16 games. While it’s not something Oilers fans should expect again, Maroon’s pace over a regular 82-game schedule was a 71-point performance and nothing short of remarkable for a depth forward who was being offloaded by his former team.
It was a trade that didn’t really register on the NHL radar when it happened. In many ways, the transaction was an afterthought as Maroon’s deal became public well past when the 3 pm trade deadline had come and gone. Edmonton gave little back to Anaheim, who was shedding a contract and because of the overflow of forwards on the Ducks’ roster, Anaheim chose to pay a portion of Maroon’s salary, making it a bargain deal for Edmonton — the type of trade organizations look for, but often don’t pan out. Edmonton was well out of the playoff picture, but they were adding a player on contract and taking a slight gamble that it would pan out.
So far, things appear promising and Maroon looks to be a great find for the Oilers moving forward. He has two years left on his current deal at $1.5 million and he’s poised to be one of Edmonton’s most cap-friendly contracts over the next two years.
Edmonton had an interesting summer, adding more size and a top-tier left-winger in Milan Lucic. Lucic was Edmonton’s big-ticket signing and is projected to play permanently with Connor McDavid. That will bump Maroon down to a second- or third-line spot, where he’ll battle for ice time with Benoit Pouliot and likely skate with a combination of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Leon Draisaitl as his center. It’s a step down from playing with McDavid, but Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins aren’t slouches by any means. Both possess the skill and ability to help Maroon surpass the point totals he’d been producing in Anaheim.
Fans should, however, proceed with an err of caution when it comes to Maroon. It would be unwise to get overly excited, falsely expecting that all of a sudden the Oilers have a 60-70 point player at the second-line left-wing position. Over the course of a season, players can be streaky and what fans saw toward the end of 2015-16 was Maroon on the hot streak of his career. To ask him to produce those kinds of results again would be unfairly asking a player who doesn’t have a consistent goal-scoring history to do more than he’s likely capable of.
Can Maroon get 20 goals? Yes. Will he? A lot of that depends on a certain set of circumstances.
Maroon will be given an opportunity to succeed but he’ll play second fiddle to Lucic and, depending on who comes out of the gate stronger, may see time lessened or added based on the production of Pouliot. Maroon was given first-line minutes in Edmonton to end last season simply because Taylor Hall was seen as a better fit on an alternate line than McDavid, giving the Oilers a more spread-out attack. With Hall gone, Edmonton will be looking to create a second line, led by someone who can drive the play. While he can complement a line, Maroon isn’t really that player.
Maroon is at his best when he’s standing in front of or driving the net. Using his size to screen the goaltender or pop in a rebound gives the Oilers variety on offense. If there is a player that can get him the puck in the right position, Maroon has the skill to finish a play. Maroon’s points will come as a result of being in the right place at the right time.
The Expansion Draft
Despite Maroon’s cap-friendly contract, his time with the Oilers may be shorter lived than fans may hope. Should he have a good season — somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 points would be fantastic — he could be a candidate for the Las Vegas expansion club. He’s young, he’s got size, is relatively mobile and has skilled hands for a big man. Edmonton wouldn’t have the means to protect him and Maroon could wind up a great grab for any team. But, to garner interest by the expansion team, he’ll have to have more of a season like the one he saw with the Oilers and less like the ones he produced in Anaheim.
If he doesn’t reproduce last season’s fantastic results (which is the most likely scenario), he’ll still be considered a great depth grab for a low-acquisition cost. Somewhere in the 30-35 points with 15 goals may be where Maroon falls and if that’s the case, it should still be classified as a good trade. In fact, even if he doesn’t light the world on fire, the Oilers could benefit from more trades like the one that brought Maroon to town.