Quick, where are David Laliberte, Rob Bordson, and Danny Syvret playing hockey right now?
Fans of the AHL may recognize the last two names, Bordson with Adirondack and Syvret with Hartford, while Laliberte is currently skating with Bolzano-Bozen in the Austrian Hockey League. It would seem surprising to find a breakout second line player included in a deal involving those three players, but Patrick Maroon has evolved into exactly that since coming over from Philadelphia.
Regular listeners of Anaheim Calling: The Podcast are certainly familiar with my at times comically overflowing praise for the 6'3" winger in his first full NHL season, and you can find me proudly wearing an 'infamous' #62 to games. Yet following the Ducks Pacific Division-clinching 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, the player NBC Sports Network analysts Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter saw fit to feature was the 25 year old from St. Louis. With 10 goals and 18 assists in 60 games (just under a point every other game pace) this season Maroon is graduating from being the kind of player that fans appreciate for a dogged work ethic and burly game, to an evolving offensive force on a second line with center Mathieu Perreault and the legendary Teemu Selanne.
Since being selected with the 161st pick in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by Philadelphia, the outlook for Maroon was that of a checking-type player with potential upside as a power forward. After scoring 23 goals with 31 assists in his first AHL season with the Philadelphia Phantoms in '08-'09, he had a back-step when the team moved to Adirondack the following season netting just 11 goals and 33 assists and ultimately fell out of favor in '10-'11 before being traded to the Ducks. Maroon would spend the majority of the next three seasons with the Syracuse Crunch, scoring 21 goals in '10-'11 then putting up career high 32 goals and 42 assists in '11-'12, and the Norfolk Admirals last season chalking up 26 goals and 24 assists.
Though Maroon scored his first NHL goal February 16th at Nashville during the '12-'13 season, he only saw 13 games with the big club last year. This season was the first time Maroon began the year with the big club, and he put together a four-game point streak starting with an assist on throwback night against Ottawa. Though offense wouldn't be a consistent part of his game before the Olympic break, he carved out a physical niche in showing a willingness to drop the mitts drawing ten fighting majors during that stretch. Since the conclusion of the Sochi games, Maroon has found his scoring touch, picking up a point in ten of the 20 games with 14 of his 28 points thus far this season in the current stretch as he's been earning more and more ice time.
It's not only the traditional metrics that bear out Maroon's impact on the team. When you dig into the 'advanced stats', he has the highest Corsi For % of any player on the team appearing in over 20 games at 54.6% (meaning when he's on the ice Anaheim takes that percentage of shot attempts, regardless whether they are on net, wide, or blocked), as well as having a 5.6% Relative Corsi For % (meaning the Ducks take that percentage more shots attempted when he's on the ice as opposed to when he isn't) that tops the same sample. Of his 18 assists thus far 13 of them are the primary assist, with the tricky backhand pass around the net front becoming a hallmark of his game. Maroon does have the advantage of getting the highest percentage of offensive zone starts of anyone on the team (55% of his shifts have begun on a face off in the offensive zone), but his play has been taking advantage of it which is all one could ask for.
His development as the season progressed seemed a major driver behind the shipping out of Dustin Penner, and being signed through next season for an affordable $0.575 mil cap hit he figures to be a valuable piece for the immediate future as well potentially longer term. As last postseason showed the Ducks need to have greater depth of scoring should Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry get taken away by opposing defenses, and Maroon has stepped up to be one of the teams important offensive as well as gritty contributors down the stretch.
Three years removed from being part of deal involving what appeared on the surface to be little more than fat and gristle at the time, Maroon personifies the kind of effort it will take for Anaheim to be successful this postseason. While other more established players will rightfully draw headlines and video packages, there will have to be the nights like the division title clinching game against the Sharks where the eyes of the media train on the strong-bodied second liner.
When that happens, everyone will be able to proudly say where Patrick Maroon plays hockey.