The Edmonton Oilers signed Milan Lucic last offseason to not only establish a change in their culture but to get a top-six left winger to replace Taylor Hall. However, he has mainly been a fixture on the second line, and Patrick Maroon became the first-line LW.
As Lucic continues to adapt to his role with the team, and as Maroon continues to shine, many are curious as to who is a better fit on the first line coming into 2017-18. Can Lucic make the jump, or is Maroon still the better fit?
Comparing their statistics
First off, let’s take a look at both of their statistics on the first line, as well as the chemistry they have on the top trio. To do this, we will look at how they perform with and without Connor McDavid, who is currently the only permanent staple on the first line.
The Lucic-McDavid duo averaged .97 goals for per 60 minutes, while Lucic had just .67 goals/60 without McDavid. On the contrary, McDavid is better off without Lucic and puts up higher numbers. Sans Lucic, McDavid recorded 1.24 goals/60 this past season.
Statistically speaking, however, Maroon has better numbers on the top line. With McDavid, the duo averaged 1.21 goals for/60. This is a step up from the 1.1 goals/60 McDavid puts up without Maroon on his left side.
Defensively, Lucic and McDavid were stronger together, only surrendering .68 goals against/60, while Maroon and McDavid allowed .71 GA/60. Looking at these numbers, Lucic is the better defensive player for McDavid to have, and this could be something that Edmonton considers moving forward.
Comparing their on-ice play
Watching these players on the ice, it is easy to see the chemistry better in action than through numbers. While the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Lucic could provide physicality, protect McDavid and take care of the puck, he was not as fast as Maroon was.
In fact, Maroon was not only able to keep up with McDavid but had better overall chemistry. He showed that he can bounce off McDavid well and make plays on the fly. In addition, Maroon could work with McDavid’s vision and could read him well. The two could also communicate quickly and thought in similar fashion while working with one another, and that made them have better chemistry.
Overall, while Lucic and McDavid still produce, Maroon and McDavid are the ideal pairing. They have better statistics and perform well together. Going into next season, things may change, but just seeing from experience, Maroon should be the staple on the top line LW heading into training camp.