New Jersey Devils: What If Patrick Maroon Re-Signed With Devils?

Patrick Maroon #17 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Patrick Maroon #17 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils didn’t do much of anything in the offseason after the 2018 season. They were riding high after making the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Taylor Hall won the MVP, and Brian Boyle won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after his fight against cancer. The Devils rode a massive run at the end of the season to hold off the Florida Panthers to take the final spot in the postseason. It felt like vindication.

Then, Ray Shero decided to sit on his hands in the offseason. Devils fans were salivating at the possibility they could sign John Carlson. New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk would be a nice addition to a budding top six. Heck, even Calvin de Haan would be a nice little upgrade. Instead, the Devils biggest signing was defenseman Eric Gryba. Meanwhile, they lost Brian Gibbons, John Moore, Michael Grabner, and Patrick Maroon in the offseason. They put a lot of chips on John Quenneville to step up and make the lineup.

Maroon is the one that hurt. Shero actually tried to re-sign the big, brooding winger to add a fierceness to the lineup. They traded for Maroon at the very last moment of the trade deadline, sending a 3rd-round pick and J.D. Dudek to the Edmonton Oilers. The Devils offered him decent money and reportedly a three-year deal. Instead, Maroon went to St. Louis on a one-year deal that paid him less than $2 million.

Maroon does not regret the signing. He ended up winning the Stanley Cup with his hometown Blues. Then, he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and won the Stanley Cup again. Now, he’s back in the Stanley Cup Final looking to score his third-straight Stanley Cup.

It makes us wonder, what would happen if Maroon accepted that three-year deal?

It’s safe to say that if the past three years went the same way they did, he wouldn’t have finished this season on the Devils. When he would have been traded is anyone’s guess, but Maroon would want a run at the Cup at some point. Let’s pretend it didn’t go as bad as it has.

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Maroon would bring a veteran presence and an on-ice presence the Devils sorely needed. He couldn’t force Keith Kinkaid to re-learn how to play hockey or help Cory Schneider avoid injury, so his first season post-signing is probably a similar result. The good news is that means the Devils still win the number-one overall pick and select Jack Hughes.

Now, Maroon is a locker room leader on a team that’s getting younger, but it’s also getting better. The Devils probably still get P.K. Subban. With Maroon on the team, there isn’t this weird divide between young players and the veterans. There was a clear chemistry issue on the Devils in 2019-20, and John Hynes couldn’t fix it. Travis Zajac isn’t the type of leader to change the narrative, and neither was then-captain Andy Greene. Taylor Hall was a star, but he just wanted to be a great hockey player. Maroon could play the fire-starter role the team didn’t have. That truly changes a lot about that season.

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The Devils didn’t have to be one of the 16-best teams in the league last season. They needed to be one of the 24 best. They were three points out from a playoff spot. Maroon’s presence would have helped them get it. They might be the bottom team in this situation, but a playoff atmosphere was well worth it.

This season was such a mess, nothing was going to save the Devils short of a COVID vaccine. So, Maroon being on the team doesn’t change much, but this team would have been a lot more fun to watch. Too often the Devils got pushed around. Maroon makes teams pay for that.

It’s clear Maroon is much happier with his decision despite leaving a lot of money on the table. He’s a player teams love to have, and he makes money a secondary factor. The Devils could have used him the past three years, but the narrative he’s writing right now is much better with the path he chose.