This is Cooper Marody. He signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, a deal that will pay him $750,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL. It’s a slightly higher total than linemate Tyler Benson received recently, Marody’s AHL deal worth $50,000 more.
What does it mean for Marody? He’ll need to clear waivers in getting sent down and there’s a chance someone (Seattle Kraken?) will pluck him off waivers. Marody’s time in Edmonton has been something less than fruitful and a crossroads appears on the horizon. Can he make the Oilers this fall?
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COOPER MARODY AS A HOCKEY PLAYER
I’m not a scout, and I’m not a coach, and I’m certainly not a math genius working the hockey numbers. None of those things. No sir. I’m an (aging) gentleman who can write a little, talk a lot and has some ability to observe things over a (very) long period of time. Eventually I reach conclusions, and some of them are right.
Since he was acquired by Edmonton in the spring of 2018, you and I have been staring at Marody. He’s a skilled player, a righty center and (when healthy) a point-per-game (or more) AHL talent. In his rookie season with the Bakersfield Condors, he posted over a point-per-game and was an outstanding player at that level. He even made it to the NHL for six games, and looked good.
He was hurt in the spring of 2019 in a playoff series against the Colorado Eagles (by a former Oiler prospect, of course) and it derailed him for the following season. In 2020-21, the old Marody returned, a better scorer this time, and a man who moved to wing in order to push for an NHL job.
Over three years, fans were patient, then impatient and then began making statements as if they were a universal known. “Marody is too slow” went from a statement of opinion to something of a fact. Did you know Teddy Purcell was too slow? Patrick Maroon? Yes. True. Purcell’s first full NHL season (over 40 games) came in 2009-10, and he was traded at the deadline. Purcell was 24 when he began helping NHL teams win games, Maroon was 25. Marody will turn 25 the week before Christmas.
Look, I’m sure that Randy Carlyle wondered openly about Maroon’s speed, and Bruce Boudreau was willing to sacrifice him at the deadline if David Perron could be acquired. Marody played four games for coach Todd McLellan, he spent 12 minutes on the ice in McLellan’s last game. Ken Hitchcock played him for two games, average four+ minutes a night, and he was sent to Bakersfield where he’s remained since.
Bottom line: Marody needs to find a coach who believes in him, will give him a chance to establish himself in the NHL. Once he’s comfortable in the NHL, points should come. That’s my belief. I also believe that most of the time when someone says (or posts) “that player isn’t fast enough” the assertion is a community opinion built sky high through hundreds of posts that have driven the point home. One coach, one man in charge, can turn Marody into Teddy Purcell this September or next one. It isn’t guaranteed, but it’s far more possible than most reading this post believe.
Here’s a different way of looking at it. When I was involved in a roto baseball league, we had a $260 budget for eight pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and four outfielders. The average price was $13, but I spent over $50 on Jeff Bagwell and Barry Bonds every chance I got (it was a keeper league). This meant going cheap in other areas and I went with pitching as the inexpensive spot. I learned from studying Bill James that if you choose a stable team (the Atlanta Braves of the era were an example, LA Dodgers too) and scoped out their rotation there were bargains to be found. Pedro Astacio would go for $4, Darren Dreifort helped me win the league one year for $2 and on it went.
My formula involved six starters (two closers, they were expensive) who would stay in the rotation. I would identify the starters on good teams, divide their strikeouts as starters by the previous season’s wins, and take the pitchers who were due for a regression. I know, pretty silly but it worked. I avoided bad teams and slop pitchers.
So, one day, at the end of the 1993 draft (it was really an auction, you would bid on players) my friend Steve Lane (he was a producer at CTV) asked me for a starting pitcher because his list ran out and he needed a name. I looked at my list (I would never have run out of names, I was more prepared for that draft than I was for anything before or since) and saw one name that had some semblance of value. He was on a bad team (Pittsburgh Pirates) but they had been good recently and even though his strikeout rate wasn’t great he had some potential.
I would never have chosen Denny Neagle, so threw the name to Steve. Neagle would win nine games in 1994, then 13, 16 and finally 20 games. For $1! Dammit! Neagle had been hanging around the majors for a couple of years, finding a way to get hitters out, and then manager Jim Leyland threw him in the rotation and Neagle rewarded him and other MLB managers with a 98-57 won-loss record over the next seven years.
If you give a player with plus skills and some flaws a chance, and stick with him, you could land a major league player. Anyway, I believe in Marody.
I believe there are more than 14 legit NHL forwards in an organization’s system at any given time. NHL coaches are looking for specific things, and often foot speed is a hill the coach will die on. NHL equivalencies give us an idea of a player’s offense and how it might convert in a similar NHL job. It doesn’t care about foot speed, it’s math. Here are three players who are/were Oilers prospects at one time, and their NHLE’s. Any total over 30 means they are worthy of a look, anything over 40 (before age 25) and they should be in the NHL.
I mention that an NHL team has more than 14 forwards available for a season, and because of it the coach has options. That’s a good thing, and of course it means that some of the prospects who could have NHL careers in fact play their careers in other leagues because the opportunity wasn’t available, or they didn’t perform well, during their window of audition.
Hartikainen scored 6-7-13 in 52 NHL games, and then shuffled off to the KHL where he has delivered many fine seasons. He could have been in the NHL during those years, but the Oilers went with Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Jones, Luke Gazdic, Matt Fraser, Rob Klinkhammer, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, Mike Cammalleri, Pontus Aberg, Drake Caggiula, Valentin Zykov, Joakim Nygard, Tyler Ennis and Tomas Jurco instead. Some interesting names in there.
Hartikainen would have been a worthy investment, an entire season, the same opportunity given to Drake Caggiula or Ryan Jones. Marody is from the same pile. He’s Hartikainen, he’s Denny Neagle. I wish him well.