The St. Louis Blues continued their stellar off season with the signing of former Anaheim, Edmonton, and New Jersey forward Patrick Maroon to a one-year contract for $1.75-million, according to TVA Sports.
Maroon had 17 goals and 43 points in 74 games with the Oilers and Devils in 2017-18.
Though his best season came on Connor McDavid’s wing, it’s worth noting that Maroon had 13 points in 17 games in the regular season for New Jersey following his trade. That was even with a cut in ice time of over two minutes per game. Even if he were to just score 15 goals this year, doing so on a one-year deal for $1.75-million is worth it.
Often pegged as needing an elite centre to produce, Maroon also makes his line mates better in return. Dating back to his days in Anaheim, the duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry performed much better with Maroon on their wing than they did without him. This was true in 2017-18 with McDavid and Maroon as the team’s shot share declined dramatically when McDavid was on the ice with anyone on his left wing not named Maroon. While Maroon performs better when with someone like Getzlaf or McDavid (almost any player would), he does help in return. It’s not a one-way street.
This signing gives the Blues some flexibility. Though the following is a phrase often used to describe bad players being carried by good ones, Maroon is truly a player who can play anywhere in the lineup. Should they decide to spread Jaden Schwartz to another line away from Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, Maroon could slot on the top trio (I’m not saying they will split up that top trio, I’m just saying they have options now). He can also slide onto the fourth line and help lengthen the lineup. It provides insurance in case Robby Fabbri’s recovery doesn’t go as planned, though there’s been no indication of the sort, and he’s been fully cleared. All the same, there’s been injuries to guys like Fabbri, Schwartz, and Alex Steen over the years, and the lack of forward depth has been exposed when these injuries hit. Maroon helps alleviate some of these concerns.
The real question is what the lineup will look like now. Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko is the unquestioned top line. Ryan O’Reilly will slot in behind Schenn, though realistically, they will probably be very close in ice time when all is said and done. Tyler Bozak is the third-line centre, but who are the wingers on the second and third lines? Aside from Schwartz and Tarasenko, they now have: Maroon, Steen, Fabbri, David Perron that all seem to have the inside track. We’ve seen quotes from the brain trust that maybe Robert Thomas plays a significant role on the team from the outset. Should Klim Kostin play his way onto the team out of camp, it won’t be on the fourth line, which means Perron could slide to the left and move Maroon down to the bottom trio.
There are a lot of left-handed shots to deal with. After the top line, there is Steen, Fabbri, Maroon, O’Reilly, and Perron. Basically, it’s only Tyler Bozak who as a righty. For that reason, it would make sense to have Steen on Bozak’s line where they can interchange between centre and the wing. It would allow Perron to play the right side on the second line as well, meaning it’s just a matter of figuring out which line Fabbri and Maroon slot with in the middle-six.
My guess is Maroon slots on the third line with Bozak and Steen while the second line looks like Fabbri-O’Reilly-Perron.
Keep in mind that training camp could have a lot of bearing here. If Thomas indeed ends up with O’Reilly, it would push one of the existing top-9 onto the fourth line and Maroon is the obvious option to do so. These lines are guesses until the end of September provides some clarity.
The Blues use a heavy top PP unit which means Maroon’s PP time should be sparse next year. He only had seven power-play points last year and six the year before so it’s not as if it has been a significant part of his fantasy value.
Who this helps
I added that this helps Allen because Maroon is a guy who can positively affect shot impacts while providing some depth scoring. That’s not something that has been in abundance for the Blues the last couple years, even if they were still a good defensive team.
Maroon gives Bozak a guy who can not only get on the puck in deep and to the facilitators, but also gets to the net providing a target for Bozak’s playmaking abilities.
Who this hurts
At best, this locks Barbashev into a fourth-line role for most of the year. At worst, this might be the end of his tenure with the Blues in the NHL. He hasn’t flourished into the player they’d hope he’d be at this point and between his less-than-stellar NHL results and mediocre AHL results, this signifies that he’s at least one more year away from being a true NHL regular, if at all.
Not that he was any real threat to crack the top-9 but this means unless there are a bevy of catastrophic injuries, Nolan will not be consistently in the lineup for the Blues, especially if the kids like Thomas, Kyrou, or Kostin get a roster spot. He can be used as a streamer for penalty minutes but that’s about it.
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