General Manager Peter Chiarelli did a nice job adding the size he wanted by acquiring forward Patrick Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday afternoon. Knowing full well that the player's value is at a low point, and the fact that the Ducks needed to clear space on their wing for their new additions, Chiarelli gave up very little and even had the Ducks cover 25% of Maroon's annual salary. The Oilers now have a low risk, reclamation project on their roster, who could potentially be one of the few value contracts on the team. Maroon's price point is fair if he finds a role in the bottom six, and would be a bargain if he slots into a scoring line and produces.
The trade to bring in Maroon also indicates to me that Chiarelli isn't going to over spend on size and would rather bring in these types of players on reasonable contracts. I'm hoping that this means the Oilers won't be pursuing someone like Milan Lucic, who is an excellent player, but will more than likely command dollars and term if he hits free agency this summer. Players who bring a physical element to the game tend to regress rapidly as they age, and I would hate to see the Oilers invest in someone whose productivity is likely to decline.
What we know about Maroon is that over his last three seasons with the Ducks, he's produced well and has some nice underlying numbers. This season, however, Maroon has played poorly, and appears to have taken a step back when it comes to possession and scoring. Corey put together a solid summary of Maroon's numbers, but after reading that, I wanted to know more about his struggles and if there's anything the Oilers should consider in regards to his deployment over the next 17 games.
First, a glance at his standard numbers at even-strength. Obvious here that his point production has taken a dive, but so to has his personal shooting percentage and his team's shooting percentage (Source: War on Ice).
|Season||Games||TOI/Gm||G-A-P||P/60||CF%Rel||ZSO%Rel||On Ice Sv%||On Ice Sh%||PDO||Personal Sh%|
Next, I wanted to see what impact he has had on his teams performance when it comes to possession (shot attempts), scoring chances and goals. Basically, I just want to see if he' might be having some bad luck (i.e., maybe he can generate chances, but the goals aren't coming). Below are his stats relative to his teammates at even-strength over the past three seasons. Again, we see a gradual decline year-to-year, with this year in particular being terrible for Maroon.
Definitely odd when a player posts that bad of numbers. We see in the first table this his personal shooting percentage is an abysmal 2.0%, and the team has a 5.1% shooting percentage when he's on the ice. We know the Ducks had a terrible start to the season, but did turn it around in November, after about 20 games, when Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau started using the younger defencemen a lot more. There was also a lot of line shuffling going on, with Maroon starting the season with Shawn Horcoff and Mike Santorelli, but seeing a number of different linemates in those first 20 games where the Ducks struggled (Source: Hockey Viz).
In this graph, each vertical bar represents a game, so in the first bar, we see that Maroon's most common linemates at 5v5 were Shawn Horcoff and Mike Santorelli. At the end of the graph, for about seven straight games, his most common linemates were Ryan Garbutt and Nate Thompson. We do see here that Maroon got to play a string of games with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, two of the Ducks better forwards this season. And it's in this line combination that Maroon scored five of his nine points this season (Source: Hockey Analysis). What's also worth noting is that Maroon has in fact received a lot more offensive zone starts compared to his linemates this season, but that's usually with guys like Mike Santorelli and Chris Stewart (not exactly the most productive players) who get a ton of offensive zone starts. In his final stretch of games with the Ducks, Maroon spent a lot of time playing wing for Nate Thompson, who takes a lot of defensive zone faceoffs (a very high proportion of them compared to his teammates) and doesn't have a strong track record when it comes to possession and scoring chances. This might be why Maroon's offence completely dried up.
Historically, Maroon has been productive playing with superstars like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, but so to have a lot of other players. What is interesting is that in Maroon's best season, which was in 2013/14, his most common linemates at 5v5 were Mathieu Perreault and Teemu Selanne, two well rounded players who played well in both ends of the ice and often posted good possession and scoring chance numbers.
So what does this mean for the Oilers?
What the Oilers have in Maroon is a player that can move around in the lineup and can produce when paired with strong possession drivers. Maroon isn't any sort of drag on teammates, but he does need to be placed in offensive situations at even-strength as much as possible.
If Maroon is to have success, he'll need to play with a center that drives play and is relied upon for offence. Maroon has struggled mightily when paired with below average players or those that often start in their own zone. Really, Maroon should not be paired with someone like Mark Letestu, who often takes defensive zone faceoffs, or Lauri Korpikoski who is one of the weakest players when it comes to shot differentials in the league.
Ideally, I'd like to see Maroon on the left side with McDavid and Eberle, but I wouldn't be surprised if he takes the same path as Kassian did when he joined the Oilers and start with Letestu to face weaker competition. Whatever happens over the next few games, I fully expect the Oilers to eventually give Maroon a chance to play in the top six with the likes of Hall and McDavid. And it's only then that we'll see him post some of the numbers he did before this season.