The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Saturday they signed former St. Louis Blues forward Pat Maroon to a one-year, $900,000 contract. Last season, he played in 74 regular-season games and recorded 28 points while scoring seven points in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Maroon, a St. Louis native, has bounced around the league the last few seasons but is known for being a gritty player with strong leadership skills. Fresh off a Stanley Cup championship, Maroon gives the Lightning a few things they may have been missing heading into the 2019-20 season.
Looking at the Lightning’s bottom-six forwards, there’s Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, Danick Martel, Cedric Paquette, Alex Killorn and now Maroon. Ryan Callahan was a fourth-line leader for the Lightning who had a great presence in the locker room, but his career has essentially ended due to a chronic back injury. With the Maroon signing, the Lightning still have a bottom-six leader some of the younger players can learn from.
The bottom-six of an NHL lineup isn’t the flashiest job, but Maroon isn’t the flashiest player, and neither are any of the Lightning’s other bottom-six forwards. He’s going to get in front of the net, stir the pot in front of the opposition’s goalie and create more chances to get shots through for the Lightning defensemen.
What he will also provide for players like Cirelli, Joseph and Martel is a guy they can play with and learn from on the fly. These are players the Lightning view as young, valuable assets, and having Maroon on their line will only help them gain a better understanding of the NHL.
The Lightning currently do not have one player on their roster who has won the Stanley Cup. There are a few players who were on the team when they made it to the Cup Final in 2015, but that’s different than actually winning it all. Plus, that was four years ago. The Lightning aren’t looking at the past, and adding Maroon gives the Lightning a guy who knows exactly what it takes to win it all.
Maroon is a role player and every Stanley Cup-winning team needs at least one of those guys on the ice and in the locker room. As was stated earlier, he had seven points in 26 playoff games last year — including a Game 7, double-overtime goal that sent the Blues to the Western Conference Final — but his point totals have never been what sets him apart in the NHL. What does set him apart is his role as a tough, gritty, hard-nosed player, but he also brings fresh playoff experience to the Lightning, something they didn’t get much of last season.
Shocking but Sensical
This deal caught a lot of people by surprise. Many believed the Lightning were focused on getting a contract for Brayden Point, and that’s likely still their top priority, but Maroon comes to the Lightning on a very team-friendly deal. At just $900,000, the team still has over $8 million in cap space this season to sign Point while getting a strong role player in Maroon.
It’s also come full circle for head coach Jon Cooper, who coached Maroon in juniors in 2006-07 with the St. Louis Bandits. The team won the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup and Maroon was named to the NAHL First All-Star team.
Signing Maroon makes a lot of sense for the Lightning. Since they lost Callahan, a great locker room leader, and Erne, a fourth-line grinder, Maroon can fill both of those voids left behind on a very team-friendly contract. He’s also no stranger to Cooper — although it’s been a few years — which should help make the transition from the Blues to the Lightning that much easier.