Ignore the scoresheet for a second: Patrick Maroon has had a big impact for the St. Louis Blues this post-season. Just watch any Stanley Cup final game and you’ll easily pick out Maroon doing something impactful, whether it’s pushing Boston’s star players or creating havoc around the net.
Playing on a surprisingly effective line with Tyler Bozak and Sammy Blais, Maroon’s physicality has fit in well with the energy and two-way play of St. Louis’ third trio. Of Maroon’s three playoff goals, none will be as important as the one that gave the Blues a double-overtime victory in Game 7 against the Dallas Stars in the second round. His opponents don’t like playing against him, and while he has just seven points, he’s been a heck of a player in St. Louis this spring.
With no suitors over the summer, Maroon approached the Blues in an effort to return home to his family and prove his worth, and the Blues signed him to a one-year deal. Nothing has come easy for Maroon this year, from boos early on for choosing Keith Tkachuk’s No. 7 to his grandfather passing away just prior to the playoffs. Maroon is coming off of a 10-goal, 28-point season, but 35 points is what you should typically expect from him. But regardless of what happens in the final, it’s safe to say that the Blues have gotten a bargain out of his $1.75-million deal.
For as good as Maroon has been the past few weeks, he’s far from the best veteran making under $2 million this season. With that, here are five other pending unrestricted free agents who will get a raise on the open market this summer, plus a prediction of how much they will make next year:
Robin Lehner, G ($1.5 million, New York Islanders)
For a player with a history of off-ice health issues and inconsistent play, it was surprising to see Lehner get another chance as an NHL starter this season. But playing on a $1.5-million deal, Lehner, 27, proved to be a heck of a value player. It’s hard to be more impactful than Lehner, finishing the year with a 25-13-5 record and six shutouts with a Jennings Trophy to his credit and a shot at the Masterton and Vezina Trophies. The question now: do the Isles think he’ll be good enough long-term to warrant a substantial contract? If so, something in the $5- to $6-million range is in the cards.
Ryan Dzingel, C ($1.8 million, Columbus Blue Jackets)
With 12 points in 21 regular-season games and just one in nine playoff games, Dzingel, 27, didn’t exactly light the world on fire after Columbus acquired him from Ottawa prior to the trade deadline. But very few seventh-round picks have been as consistent as Dzingel has been over the past three years, scoring 63 goals as an effective two-way center. He was a desirable commodity at the deadline and will be highly coveted this summer. He’ll get around $5 million per year on his next deal.
Brett Connolly, RW ($1.5 million, Washington Capitals)
Did you know Connolly had 22 goals this season? Because if you aren’t a Capitals fan, it’s quite easy to overlook that. Connolly, selected in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010 (6th overall), never materialized into the scoring star many pegged him to be, but you could do much worse than having a big winger on your third line scoring 20-plus goals. The 27-year-old should fetch an additional two million on his salary next season as he further cements himself as an impact secondary scorer.
Micheal Ferland, LW ($1.75 million, Carolina Hurricanes)
A 40-point winger with a physical edge on a $1.75-million deal? What a steal. Ferland was a big-time impact player for the Hurricanes, bringing his power-forward game to a team filled with offensive talent. With 40 points in 71 games, Ferland, 27, will several suitors this summer if Carolina can’t get him to agree to a deal prior to July 1. Ferland was injured during the playoffs and had just one assist in seven games to show for it, but every team can use a bruising winger capable of decent offensive numbers. Don’t be shocked if he gets $4.5 to $5 million next season.
Alex Chiasson, RW ($650,000, Edmonton Oilers)
Chiasson was easily one of the biggest bright spots for the Oilers, turning a tryout deal into his first 20-goal season as one of Edmonton’s better wingers – just ignore his 22-game goalless drought midway through the year. A bottom-six forward on most teams, Chiasson, 28, took advantage of a weak Oilers roster to finish with 38 points, the best of his career. The 28-year-old has been around the block the past few seasons, only playing for the same team in consecutive years twice since 2012, but if Edmonton doesn’t want to pony up $1.5 to $2 million for next season and beyond, some team surely will.
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