The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Pat Maroon to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $1 million. Maroon is in his third season with the Lightning. He joined the team as a free agent in 2019-20 on a one-year, $900,000 contract after winning the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in the previous season. The Lightning won the 2020 Stanley Cup and then a month later re-signed Maroon to a two-year contract with a $900,000 cap hit.
Over his past two and a half seasons with the Lightning, Maroon has skated in 164 games and recorded 20 goals and 54 points. He’s been a reliable bottom six forward for the Lightning and is seeing a little bit more ice time this season averaging 13:06 on the third line next to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Corey Perry. With Bellemare and Perry also signed for another season, the Lightning have one of their bottom two lines locked in for a cost of $3 million. That is the kind of financial value in their bottom six that the Lightning will need as they deal with some contract issues over the next couple of seasons.
In general, it’s a bad idea to sign players on the lower end of your roster for any kind of term. We’ve seen some other teams get themselves into some bad contracts with a loyalty contract to such a player that stretches for four or five years. This two-year contract, just like the one he is currently on, is very manageable. Even if Maroon sees a sharp decline in his play over the next two and a half seasons, the Lightning would be able to waive him and if he makes it through waivers, place him in the AHL with no salary cap complications. Maroon will turn 34 in April. He’s on the backside of his career and in the age range where sudden drop offs in performance become much more likely.
As long as Maroon can stay in the line-up and be an effective player, this contract is a great value. This coming offseason isn’t too big of a challenge for Julien BriseBois. Ondrej Palat, Jan Rutta, and Brian Elliott are now the only unrestricted free agents. Mathieu Joseph is the only notable restricted free agent, with the others being AHLers. He does have to contend with the raise that Brayden Point got with his extension that will bring his cap hit from $6,750,000 to $9,500,000.
Looking further ahead to 2023-24, that’s when the Lightning will have a lot of maneuvering and decision making to do. Alex Killorn, Perry, and Bellemare will all be unrestricted free agents. Joseph will have gotten his raise as a restricted free agent. But the Lightning will have to contend with five fairly big RFA contract negotiations; Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, Ross Colton, and Cal Foote. Maroon, as long as he remains capable of holding down a roster spot, locks in one of those variables in the equation for 2023-24.