It took all weekend and dragged into the beginning of the week, but after reports surfaced that rugged, scoring winger Patrick Maroon was heading home to St. Louis, the Blues made the announcement official Tuesday. St. Louis didn’t exactly need to break the bank, either, as Maroon appears to have taken a legitimate hometown discount.
Fresh off of a three-year, $6-million contract, over the course of which he scored 56 goals and 112 points in 227 games while playing for the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils, Maroon inked a one-year, $1.75-million pact to join the Blues. And with restricted free agent defensemen Joel Edmundson and Jordan Schmaltz still without contracts for the coming season, getting Maroon at a discount should St. Louis just enough cap room — in the $3.2-million range, according to CapFriendly — to keep the back end together. No matter the price, though, Maroon is a nice get for the Blues.
In Maroon, St. Louis lands a burly, veteran winger with top-six potential who has proven over the past few seasons that he has the ability to mesh with incredibly talented players. While with the Ducks, he made his mark playing alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. After being shipped off to the Oilers, Maroon found a fit with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid en route to a breakout campaign. And just last season, after moving along to the Devils at the trade deadline, Maroon continued on in a middle-six scoring role. To add to his ability to find the scoresheet — he’s coming off of consecutive 40-point campaigns — Maroon has an edge to his game, too. His 490 hits over the past three seasons are the 25th-most among all forwards, and his physical presence is sure to endear him to Blues faithful.
What the Maroon addition means to St. Louis goes beyond signing a 40-point, crash-and-bang winger, however. In inking Maroon, the Blues’ remarkable off-season transformation is all but complete with St. Louis using this summer to build a stable of offensive weapons that may be unmatched in the Western Conference.
Consider alone what the Blues have assembled down the middle this summer. With Brayden Schenn previously locked in as the team’s top-line center heading into the campaign, St. Louis went out and bolstered the position by inking Tyler Bozak on the opening day of free agency and then, amidst rumors the Blues were interested in making a splash, GM Doug Armstrong went and did exactly that by acquiring Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres. In making those two additions, St. Louis top three lines will now all be centered by pivots with high-scoring potential and O’Reilly, Schenn and Bozak can now slot into their ideal roles as first-, second- and third-line centers, respectively.
Additionally, the Blues dipped into the free agent market and inked David Perron, who had previously spent six seasons in St. Louis after being drafted by the franchise in 2007, to a four-year pact in a move that bolsters the right side. With Perron as a rock-solid second-line option — and one coming off of a career-high 66-point campaign, no less — St. Louis’ right wing is now stacked with 40-goal man Vladimir Tarasenko on the first unit, Perron on the second and Dmitrij Jaskin, who has considerable upside and untapped potential, on the third.
The left wing, with Maroon in the mix, is equally infallible. Jaden Schwartz, who continues to develop into a stud scoring winger, has 30-goal, 70-point potential if he can finally shake the injury bug that has haunted him throughout his career, and his 24-goal, 59-point performance in 62 games last season was proof positive of that. Alexander Steen as a second-line wing offers both offensive and defensive strength, the type of reliable two-way game that every team needs, while Maroon slots comfortably into the third-line role.
The x-factor in all of this is Robby Fabbri. A restricted free agent this summer, Fabbri re-signed with the Blues on a one-year deal worth $925,000, which could turn out to be quite the cost-effective steal for the 22-year-old, who was selected by St. Louis 21st overall in the 2014 draft. The cut-rate contract comes as the result of two injury-riddled campaigns that have kept Fabbri out of action since February 2017. He suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss the final 30 games and all 11 of St. Louis’ playoff contests to end the 2016-17 season only to re-injure the same knee and miss the entirety of the past campaign.
Questions will remain about Fabbri’s health until he proves otherwise, of course, and there will be those left wondering if the extended layoff will impact his game. Should Fabbri get back into the lineup and prove he hasn’t lost a step, though, he could be yet another 20-goal, 50-point threat for St. Louis. Before falling injured in 2016-17, Fabbri was contributing at an 18-goal, 47-point pace, and to be able to add a player of his ilk for less than $1 million stands to give the Blues cheap, effective depth scoring, something they were sorely lacking last season.
It’s not just Fabbri, though. Last season’s late deal for Nikita Soshnikov gives the Blues another young asset with some serious upside who can slot into their bottom-six, as well as talented prospects Ivan Barbashev and Klim Kostin who could fight for minutes this coming campaign.
Truthfully, the only hole that can be poked in the Blues at this point — given they have their defense in order, as well, with Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester leading the charge — is in goal. But when Jake Allen is on, he’s on, and there’s little doubt he should have the scoring support this season. So, if Allen can shake last season’s performance and turn in a campaign closer to that of the two prior campaigns, St. Louis should have a rocket strapped to their back with a bullseye marked on top spot in the Central Division.
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