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NHL Free Agency 2018: Patrick Maroon could be a worthwhile offseason target for the Golden Knights

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The 30-year-old bruiser is looking for contract security, though, so the price will have to be right for Vegas.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Following an extraordinary season, the Golden Knights are now faced with the task of improving a roster that reached the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural campaign. The Knights have around $31 million of cap space with which to work, though that figure includes any money that will be allocated towards re-signing Vegas’ restricted free agents.

With names such as Ilya Kovalchuk and John Carlson off the board, one player the Knights might consider is 30-year-old winger Patrick Maroon.

Maroon found instant success after getting traded from Anaheim to Edmonton at the 2016 trade deadline, scoring 14 points in 16 games and adding eight points in 13 playoff games. Skating primarily with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl the following season, Maroon set career highs in goals (27) and points (42). He topped that with 43 points this past season, though he split his time between Edmonton (14-16—30) and New Jersey (3-10—13) after getting shipped at the trade deadline for the second time in three years. However, the deal had much more to do with Edmonton’s place in the standings than it did with Maroon.

Once again, though, Maroon found immediate success with his new team, tallying 13 points in 17 games as New Jersey made an impressive push to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2012. He wasn’t as productive in the playoffs with just one goal in five games, but he made a strong impression in his short time with the Devils, who will consider retaining his services this offseason.

Free agency status

Maroon is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 upon the expiration of his current three-year, $6 million deal.

Even after this year’s trade, Maroon expressed interest in returning to Edmonton this offseason, though he has since admitted he also would be happy to stay in New Jersey, something the Devils are open to considering.

But after getting traded twice in three seasons, Maroon’s main priority is signing a contract that offers his family some security. It’s unclear whether that means he’s seeking some sort of partial no-movement clause or just solid term, but it appears that stability will be a significant factor in his decision.

Strengths

Maroon, or Big Rig, is a physical and rugged winger, listed at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. He’s strong on the forecheck, passes well and is not afraid to throw the body. He has experience playing up and down a lineup, including skating with high-caliber players (i.e., McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, etc.).

The St. Louis native uses his size, grit and physical presence on the forecheck and in front of the net to create time and space for his linemates, and he can also chip in offensively.

This is especially true at even strength. In fact, 15 of Maroon’s 17 goals this season were scored at 5-on-5, as were 24 of his 27 goals in 2016-17.

Also, Maroon has managed impressive possession metrics throughout his career.

Corsi For Percentage (5v5)

Season Team Games Played CF% (5v5)
Season Team Games Played CF% (5v5)
2013-14 Anaheim 62 54.22
2014-15 Anaheim 71 52.19
2015-16 Anaheim 56 50
2015-16 Edmonton 16 52.31
2016-17 Edmonton 81 53.41
2017-18 Edmonton 57 52.94
2017-18 New Jersey 17 48.1
Data via NaturalStatTrick.com

As the table demonstrates, Maroon recorded steady Corsi For percentages in his time in Anaheim and Edmonton, which is where he spent the bulk of his career. This makes his 48.10 Corsi For percentage in 17 games with New Jersey a clear deviation from the norm, though it’s reasonable to assume his numbers will regress to the mean in a larger sample. Otherwise, his Corsi For percentage has never dropped below 50 percent in his five full seasons in the NHL. While some of that can be attributed to the strength of his linemates, Maroon’s numbers have been in line with or better than those of his elite teammates (i.e., McDavid, Getzlaf, etc.).

Weaknesses

Without a doubt, Maroon’s greatest weakness is his speed, or lack thereof. This is not a minor concern given the pace of today’s NHL, which is especially true for a Golden Knights squad that relies on speed as one of the cornerstones of its game.

Another knock on Maroon’s game is his inability to finish on a consistent basis. Despite generating plenty of scoring chances, Maroon went six-plus games without scoring a goal five different times this season. Also, while his scoring at 5-on-5 is admirable, it’s also somewhat indicative of his ineffectiveness on the power play, though James Neal only scored nine power-play points last season.

Additionally, Maroon earned 23 more penalty minutes this season than anyone on the Knights; 50 of those were from his five fighting majors, just three shy of Vegas’ team total (8), which ranked 31st in the league. Maroon has racked up 70-plus penalty minutes in all five of his full NHL campaigns. Since Vegas is a team that likes to play 5-on-5, Maroon’s discipline could be an issue.

Lastly, Maroon is guilty of occasionally taking a night off, which goes against the Golden Knights’ philosophy. That being said, Maroon plays hard most of the time, so it’s possible the culture and system in place in Vegas would be infectious enough to eliminate this concern.

Fit with the Golden Knights

That brings us to the most important question: is Maroon a good fit in Vegas?

The short answer is...maybe.

If Maroon is seeking a five-year, $25 million contract, then he doesn’t make sense for Vegas. But assuming he’ll sign a more reasonable deal, Maroon could be a valuable asset to this team.

On the plus side, Maroon can help make a dent in the secondary scoring that might be lost through the potential departures of Neal and David Perron, and his size and physical presence would give Gerard Gallant more options up front. He could slot in on the second or third line and could form quite a dynamic duo with the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Alex Tuch. Skating with Perron or even Tomas Tatar, on the other hand, could form a balanced middle-six line with size, speed, possession and skill.

While he’s not a flashy player, Maroon’s main drawback is his speed, though it hasn’t prevented him from playing with some of the fastest players in the game, including McDavid.

At the end of the day, Maroon has proven that he can find success as a top-six winger. Though he has had the advantage of playing with some very talented players, he remained on those lines for a reason; simply put, he can get the job done. If the price is right, he could be an effective offseason acquisition for Vegas.