The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Patrick Maroon to a one-year contract worth $1.75 million. “We’re excited to add Pat Maroon to our group,” Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said in a news release. “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.” Maroon was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers by the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline in return for forward J.D. Dudek and third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. After coming over in the deal, Maroon scored three goals and added 10 assists to give him 17 goals and 26 assists in 74 combined games between the two teams. Armstrong added: “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 30-year-old was drafted in the sixth-round (No. 161 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. After struggling through parts of five seasons with the Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, Maroon found his scoring touch two seasons ago when he recorded 27 markers. He is coming off a three-year, $6 million deal that carried a cap hit of $2 million per season.
Nikita Kucherov signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The contract has an average annual value of $9.5 million and starts with the 2019-20 NHL season. The 25-year-old forward is beginning the final season of a three-year, $14.298 million contract he signed Oct. 11, 2016, after which he could have become a restricted free agent. He became eligible to sign an extension July 1. Kucherov said: “Definitely huge for me and for my family. Being locked up for the long term here and to be able to not think about the contract and stuff during the season … I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be in Tampa. We have a good chance to win the Stanley Cup and that’s the reason I like Tampa.” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said having Kucherov’s contract taken care of this far in advance was the best outcome: “My thought is we get the opportunity to open negotiations after July 1 of the last year of their contracts, let’s sit down with the players and their agents and see if we can get something done early. From a player’s perspective, I think it eases their mind and they can plan their future a little bit and settle in. From a team’s perspective, it helps us going forward knowing the (NHL salary) cap numbers of the players, knowing the commitment we have to make other decisions accordingly.” Yzerman said the Kucherov signing does not preclude him from further activity during the offseason. Kucherov was third in the NHL last season with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) and was named a First-Team All-Star. He also had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Lightning reach the Eastern Conference Final. Kucherov said he has started skating and working out with a pro team from Switzerland in Clearwater, Florida: “I just started last week, getting ready for a long season,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll make it to the Cup and win the Cup. I just want to be 100 percent sure that I feel good during the season and I’m able to play 100 games during the season. I want to make sure my body feels good and take care of my body.” Selected by the Lightning in the second round (No. 58) of the 2011 NHL Draft, he has 334 points (147 goals, 187 assists) in 365 NHL games, all with the Lightning. He has 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in 62 Stanley Cup Playoff games and has played in the NHL All-Star Game the past two seasons.
There has been speculation around Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty for months, with a trade out of town being the most likely final scenario for the scoring winger. Recently though there had been some who wondered if the Canadiens would re-open talks for an extension, something that now appears completely off the table. Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic (subscription required) has been told that the Canadiens will not negotiate a new contract with Pacioretty, and in fact intend to work out a trade “as soon as possible.” GM Marc Bergevin has in fact communicated that to his captain, though Pacioretty does not have any trade protection in his current contract. That contract expires at the end of next season, and has vastly underpaid Pacioretty over its duration. Carrying a $4.5MM cap hit this year, the 29-year old forward would be welcome on almost any team in the league. Still, the Canadiens know that their best chance at a big return is if Pacioretty works out an extension right away with the acquiring team. That reportedly almost happened at the June draft, but a contract couldn’t be worked out with the Los Angeles Kings and instead Pacioretty changed agencies and signed with Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey. Walsh is the one who now will negotiate any extension, and one would have to believe that several teams who missed out on some of the bigger free agents will be inquiring on the five-time 30-goal scorer. San Jose, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Boston were all given the opportunity to sit down with John Tavares, and though Pacioretty is obviously a different talent there would likely be some crossover. It’s not just those squads that could use some added scoring punch though, something that the Montreal captain can still provide even despite his down season in 2017-18. Pacioretty scored just 17 goals in 64 contests last season, but can be expected to improve on that number going forward. While a long-term deal may not turn out to be an exceptional value, it’s definitely a worthwhile risk for a player with his track record. The question now becomes what Montreal is looking for in return, and how an extension would change that ask. The Canadiens are still trying to compete right away as Carey Price enters his eight-year $84MM contract, but will have to seriously consider a package of young or future assets in exchange for their captain.