It’s not like the Oilers haven’t tried to find a mainstay with superstar center Connor McDavid. It’s not been Milan Lucic who was brought in to play alongside “The Next One” and he didn’t necessarily click. Jordan Eberle couldn’t find chemistry and neither could Taylor Hall. Nail Yakupov had his career riding on it and it couldn’t make it work. There is Leon Draisaitl, who with McDavid makes a good pair but the ultimate end game is to have each one of those players centering their own dynamic lines.
The closest thing in McDavid’s young career is Patrick Maroon. He has been, is and looks to be the guy.
Being McDavid’s regular wingmate has value. How much exactly is the question?
With Maroon coming up on unrestricted free agency at the end of this season, this is a question the Edmonton Oilers are now asking themselves and it’s a question they’ll need to find an answer to sooner than later.
The Plus Side of Knowing What Maroon Is Worth
There are always going to be arguments that you can pluck anyone alongside McDavid and they’ll score 20 goals. That has proven not to be the case. Like players who play wing to Sidney Crosby, it takes a certain understanding to figure out where the best players in the game are going to be and where they’ll need you to be. Not everyone can do it. Maroon clearly can.
In a one full season and change with the Oilers, Maroon has shown his ability to match up nicely with arguably the game’s best player. He’s slotted to play left wing with McDavid again in 2017-18 and it appears another 20-plus goal season will be a given for the forward who was figuratively thrown away by the Anaheim Ducks.
A 20-goal guy in the NHL is a $4 million player most days. It’s a significant raise from the $1.5 million he costs the Oilers now but it’s the going rate and not a number that cripples the team.
Maroon is a power play producer, he’s a presence in front of the net and he’s a physical force the Oilers like in their players. Needless to say, this $4 million price tag is the point from which any negotiation is probably going to start.
Maroon Wants to Stay
From Maroon’s perspective, it seems as though interest in leaving the organization doesn’t exist. Yes, money will play a factor, as it does with every contract negotiation, but if the Oilers offer is fair, Maroon appears ready to take it.
— David Staples (@dstaples) September 22, 2017
And why wouldn’t he? The Oilers are a team on the upswing. They employ one of the greatest players in the world and Maroon gets to play on the ice with him most nights. When he doesn’t, his backup center is a top-ten scorer too. To any player, that has value.
There might be a team ready to offer Maroon more today, but one thing he should consider is the best optics to earning another contract down the road. If Maroon signs for three years now, that will put him at 33 years old when that new contract is complete and he’ll still be young enough to get another three-year deal. But, in an NHL where 30-plus aged players aren’t guaranteed employment, the best available option seems to be a playing in an environment where 20-goal seasons feel like a tap-in putt.
The Oilers should consider this and use it as leverage in negotiating Maroon’s new deal. Want to earn yourself another big payday? No better place to do it than alongside McDavid. Their sales pitch should be he’d be setting himself up for future success.
The Left-Field Factor
There is one thing that could put a wrench in all of this. Maroon may not be worried as much about the money as he is his family. With a son who lives full-time in St. Louis, there may be interest on Maroon’s part to be closer. He’s clearly a family guy and has often made special arrangements just to get his son to games and practices with the team. When the Oilers visit the Blues, it’s a consistent storyline covered by the media.
There may not be a value one can place on family in this respect. But, if the Oilers continue to do everything in their power to keep that Maroon family dynamic closer than it’s ever been, Patrick Maroon might be able to have his cake and eat it too.
The Best Deal
The Oilers want to get this done as soon as possible. If a three-year deal for $3.75 per year is on the table, expect the Oilers to jump. If it takes $4 million, it will probably get done. If it’s anything more, expect the Oilers to wait out the season a bit and see what Maroon provides. The higher the number, the more Maroon has to prove he’s that consistent player most people seem to think he is.
The Oilers want Maroon to stay and Maroon wants to stick around. This is one of those negotiations that should be relatively painless.