Cooper Marody — a 6’1’’, 184-pound 22-year old C/RW acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers (who drafted him in the fifth round) in 2018 — had a wonderful first professional season in the AHL, leading the Bakersfield Condors in points per game, and earning a few games at the highest level with the Edmonton Oilers.
Marody is making his debut on our list in a summer full of debuts for the former Big 10 scoring champion. Earlier in the offseason he released his first single, which, if you’re curious, you can check out here.
Marody was excellent last season, and his placement on this list is testament to that. His 19-45-64 in 58 GP was second to only Tyler Benson’s output in terms of raw counts, and his p/g rate led all Bakersfield Condors this season. His projected WAR/82 of 0.43 led all players on our original list, and he was good enough to earn a few games in the NHL due to his work in California. His landing where he did in our list likely speaks to his advanced age (and short track-record within the organization) relative to some of his peers, as his season was arguably more impressive statistically than a few guys who have yet to appear in the T25 U25.
It is certainly unfortunate that Ken Hitchcock didn’t know his name, or he might have heard it a few more times, leading to a few more opportunities to impact a game with the Oilers. In reality, Marody rarely saw his ice time creep above 5 minutes in the NHL, and his most regular linemates during his time in Edmonton included names like Kyle Brodziak and Milan Lucic, two players clearly in decline last year. Hopefully this season sees the young man get a more legitimate opportunity to carve out a niche with the big club if and when he does get the call.
What They Say
“Marody has exceeded expectations in his first pro season. In 46 games with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL the young forward has amassed 48 points and has only gone pointless in just 12 games this season. He has played six games for the Oilers this season but was pointless in his time with the squad and played limited minutes. His skating is still a work in progress at this point but his overall game s transitioning well to the pro level. Marody has the potential to earn a spot on the Oilers as early as next season.” - Jameson Ewasiuk (Dobber Prospects) - March 2019
“Oilers’ General Manager Peter Chiarelli took some heat for trading a third round pick for Marody but it’s looking like a smart move. In his first pro season the young forward has earned multiple call ups to play on the big squad and has tallied four goals and 14 points in just 11 games for the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. While with the Oilers he has been a healthy scratch for 12 out of 17 games and has averaged under seven minutes of playing time. On December 12th Marody was sent back down to Bakersfield. It’s still early in his time with the Oilers but there has definitely been a lot of positives with this player so far.” - Jameson Ewasiuk (Dobber Prospects) - December 2018
“Marody played centre for virtually all of his rookie pro season, though typically accompanied by another centre in Josh Currie - though one of the boons of having a line with two centres, always having a preferred handedness for faceoffs, wasn’t available due to both shooting right. Benson was the most common occupant of the left-wing.
Apart from leaning passer over shooter, the main item in this picture is the overperformance, both individual and on-ice, from shots to goals. From 6th in CF/60 to 1st in GF/60; from 10th in CA/60 to 3rd in CF/60. 5th in individual shot contribution rate to 2nd in point contributions. Although the unit he played on was typically the greatest concentration of offensive opportunity - by forward linemates and OZS, to playing a ton with Caleb Jones. Essentially, if you were to play this season over a hundred times, this would certainly be one of the better results.
You have to be good to be lucky doesn’t exactly apply in hockey. Even 4th-liners can ride shooting percentages to 15-goal seasons. However, your version of lucky is materially tied to your version of good. Marody wouldn’t have the ability to post one of the best rookie seasons in this AHL year, while running hot, if his average output wasn’t in throwing distance. Final note - patrons may know this, but for everyone else, Marody’s lead in on-ice offense is his 4.15 GF/60, 1st among regulars, all the way from Russell, 2nd, at 3.75 GF/60.” - Keith Anthony (Petro Praxis) - 2019
What We Say
Given Marody’s brief stint with the first team last season, the young Michigan product stands a good chance of seeing even more NHL action this year. A consistent contributor to Bakersfield’s success last campaign, Marody looks among the more likely graduates to full-time NHL duty this year alongside Caleb Jones and, perhaps, Tyler Benson. While his skating still isn’t where you’d like it to be — a common theme with a lot of the guys in this range — there’s enough here to think that Marody might be (some-degree-below-average) skating a regular shift with the Oilers as soon as October.
A lot of that will depend on the play of some of Ken Holland’s summer signings too, but not one single one of those signings knocked my socks even loose, so the opportunity for him to find a home in Edmonton as early as this year remains relatively clear. Most of the signings Holland brought in were, at least I hope, with an eye toward creating competition for jobs in the bottom half, and I think Marody’s offense in the AHL suggests he may be capable of more in the right situation.
Marody found himself saddled to Milan Lucic for over half of his total minutes in the NHL, and while Lucic’s shots for/against numbers were surprisingly adequate, he was an offensive black hole in which plays went to die a quick and painful death. I’d be curious to see whether Marody might be able to find some success as the ‘other’ winger in a top-six setting. Hopefully Tippett feels the same way and we can get some sense of that come September. Of course, that would mean Connor McDavid’s leg is 110% healthy come September, and I’m not necessarily buying that right now.
A lot hinges on this year’s training camp for Cooper Marody. If he can show well enough to a fresh set of eyes over a short period of time — granted, it will likely need to be enough to present a clear gap between himself and a number of the guys Holland brought in this summer — he might make the Oilers out of camp. If he does that, and is rewarded with a genuine opportunity to impress — I’m talking more than 5 minutes a night with more than anthropomorphic pylons — Marody has shown enough in the AHL that I don’t have a hard time believing he just might.
There is obviously a skill level here, but one wonders whether Marody’s skating deficiencies relegate him to Alex Giroud status (I have like one reference point total), or whether he’s got enough going for him to overcome it and become an NHL regular. Further, Marody has long received accolades for his mind and his work ethic, so perhaps he’ll simply be able to improve it enough that it’s no longer an issue, making a future in the world’s best league (allegedly) even more likely.
Of course, it bears repeating, 22-year-old former fifth-round picks often find their paths to the NHL uneven at best, and if Marody doesn’t make the team out of camp it shouldn’t surprise. The Oilers have brought in enough players this summer that there are more humans than openings in the bottom half, and if Marody can’t distinguish himself as someone capable of playing above that in the preseason, he might find himself leading the line for Bakersfield come October. And despite all of the positives of his first pro season, Ken Holland’s propensity to ‘over-ripen’ his young charges may still win the day when camp ends.