6:16 PM: The contract contains an eight-team no-trade clause, reports TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie (Twitter link).
3:00 PM: Though there were a few hiccups along the way, Patrick Maroon is finally heading home. The big winger has officially signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Blues that will pay him just $1.75MM. This deal was reportedly close on the weekend, but Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes an agent switch that Maroon recently went through could have slowed things down. Maroon’s new agent, Ben Hankinson, told reporters Sunday night that his client was still looking at other options, despite St. Louis being a heavy favorite. Well the betting odds came through, and Maroon will be heading back to his hometown for at least one season.
Maroon, 30, likely left money on the table to go back to St. Louis and be closer to his son and other family. Playing in front of them has long been an obvious motivator for Maroon, who rebuilt his career in Edmonton the last few seasons and was a very effective player down the stretch for the New Jersey Devils. We listed him as the 12th-best free agent in our Top 50 UFA Rankings, but believed he would garner a much longer and much more lucrative contract. That may have been possible, but as Blues GM Doug Armstrong explains it was a clear goal for Maroon to return home:
We’re excited to add Pat Maroon to our group. Things picked up over the last few days, and last night about 10:30 p.m. I got a call from him and his representative saying they’d like to be part of the St. Louis Blues.
This is a one-year opportunity for him to come back, hopefully play with some really good centermen and get back to that 27-goal performance he had in Edmonton, or close to it. We think he can help our team. I talked to some of our players about him, competing against him, and they spoke very highly about how hard he was to play against, how difficult he was to move in those high traffic areas. It’s just another player we add to our group that makes us a little better than we were yesterday.
The $1.75MM price tag is extremely reasonable for the Blues, who have overhauled their roster this summer and are looking to compete for the Stanley Cup in 2018-19. With the additions of Tyler Bozak, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and now Maroon, their forward group will look very different come October. There is still likely some work to be done though, as the team now has just over $3.2MM in cap space with contracts to come for restricted free agents Joel Edmundson and Jordan Schmaltz. Some of that could be taken care of by just waiving a few forwards, since they currently have 15 that project as NHL options, but that would put assets at risk before the season begins. Instead, there could be another trade coming to clear out some cap space now that Maroon is in the fold on such a reasonable deal.
For the player, the one-year deal is a bet on himself for at least a few months. There have been reports that the Blues will offer an extension to Maroon quickly after the January 1st threshold, which could be for a multi-year term at a higher cap hit. Doing it this way allowed them to keep the cap hit down for this season when things are tight, and allows them a period of evaluation for the powerful winger. There’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to produce like he did in Edmonton and New Jersey, as Maroon has struggled in the past. Still, at the price he’s signed for right now he doesn’t need to be much more than a big body that contributes occasionally and can wear down an opposing defense.