Edmonton Oilers left winger Patrick Maroon might have already been on the team’s protection list for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Now, his name must be etched in permanent ink.
Since he was traded to Edmonton on Feb. 29, Maroon leads all Oilers in goals since then, with 22 tallies in 56 games. He’s given the Oilers exceptional production for a player GM Peter Chiarelli essentially gave up nothing for. Not to mention, he only costs $1.5 million.
Maroon has 14 goals this season which has him tied for the team lead with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. He also has 21 points in 40 games. He also played the best game of his NHL career Thursday, recording a hat-trick in the team’s 4-3 win over Boston.
Maroon told Oilers TV post-game that he never envisioned having a three-goal game in the NHL.
“This is cool,” Maroon said. “This is pretty special for me. I just told Gene Principe out there that I never in a thousand years imagined me getting a hat-trick in the NHL.”
Last season head coach Todd McLellan asked him to trim down if he wanted to stay on McDavid’s line. He dropped 25 pounds and looks noticeably quicker, but has still managed to be a physical presence in all three zones. Although Lucic started the season as the Oilers first line left-wing, Maroon continued to play well on the third line. Eventually, he earned a promotion to the top unit.
After the game 630 CHED host Rob Brown said he sees Maroon as the better fit with McDavid going forward.
“I like Maroon [on the top line] because his hands are a little bit better than [Milan Lucic],” Brown said. “Milan is a big, strong [player] and he does all kind of other things. But around the net, Maroon’s got a little bit softer hands.
“I think when you’re playing with an elite player like [McDavid], you’re going to get a lot of opportunities. So, when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to take advantage of that. And Maroon has done that.”
Maroon’s strong play this year has definitely made Chiarelli’s plans for the expansion draft more difficult. If Maroon scores 25-plus goals, which is a possibility, the Oilers simply cannot leave him exposed. Vegas will certainly grab a player like that, and in the end, the Oilers are doomed to lose someone. We know this. And if it’s not Maroon, it will likely be Brandon Davidson.
Davidson developed into a quality NHL defenceman last season. However, given his injury history and the emergence of Matthew Benning, the Oilers should protect Maroon over him. The toughest thing to do in the NHL is score goals, and Maroon can do that. The 28-year-old St. Louis native has other ways of contributing without getting his name on the score sheet. Not only that, but he’s a character guy with plenty of veteran experience and stands up for his teammates.
There’s no guarantee Maroon will stick with McDavid for the remainder of the season. McLellan changes up his lines all the time. But Maroon has shown chemistry on all the lines. Overall, he is an important piece of this Oilers team, and I expect him to be around for years to come.