Gaborik’s days with the New York Rangers are numbered
Through 29 games, the New York Rangers’ season hasn’t gone the way they wanted. Pegged as Cup favorites at the onset, New York has experienced bouts of injury and inconsistency that have hampered any ability to secure points and move up the standings. Eighth place is hardly where the Blueshirts want to be, and many factors play in to the team’s place in the Eastern Conference.
One of those factors is Marian Gaborik. Coming off his second 40-goal season in New York—and a major shoulder surgery in the offseason—Gaborik has been incredibly streaky to say the least and has contributed into the team’s inability to score. In games against the Islanders or Maple Leafs, Gaborik looks every bit of the pure sniper he’s capable of being. In others, he looks like a soft, unengaged perimeter player—something coach John Tortorella will never go for.
Which is why the question of trading Marian Gaborik has come up this season once again. All players go through slumps—it’s only human—but are his maddening issues enough to justify trading a proven goal scorer off a team that has trouble scoring most nights?
If you read between the lines of some reports floating around, it sounds like the organization is legitimately considering moving on.
With the April 3 trade deadline less than two weeks away, the Rangers have kicked the tires on gauging interest around the league on the Slovakian sniper. The rumored return the Blueshirts would want for Gaborik is a top-four, right-handed defenseman and a top-nine winger with grit.
Sounds like due diligence at first glance.
However, just this week the tone of conversation morphed from gauging interest to calling teams and asking if they want Gaborik. A sudden shift seems to indicate the team is willing to part with Gaborik in the right deal. Take into consideration the right-winger, who has a no-trade clause, has already submitted a list of eight teams he would not accept a trade to. No immediate indicator of a trade, but a part of the long process.
The two teams more likely to land Marian Gaborik are the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, because there’s not a chance the Rangers deal him to an Eastern Conference team.
The Sharks appear to be a logical fit because New York has interest in Dan Boyle; the defenseman the team covets to round out their top four. Boyle has seen better days, but the 36 year old is still serviceable. Not to mention, he won a Stanley Cup with John Tortorella and could help the Rangers’ inconsistent power play. Boyle carries a $6.67 million cap hit through 2013-14, which is less than Gaborik’s $7.5 million through the same timeframe. Ryane Clowe or T.J. Galiardi could match the grit criteria going back to New York (both are free agents this offseason).
The other team that could be a match for Gaborik is the reigning champion Los Angeles Kings. They’ve had interest in his services for quite some time and the Rangers reportedly called LA to ask about a potential trade. New York scouts have been watching the Kings virtually all season, and their depth at forward could be enticing to Glen Sather. Justin Williams would likely represent the centerpiece of a deal ($3.65 million cap hit though 2014-15) as a top-six winger the Rangers can deploy. While not as dangerous as Gaborik, Williams has scored 20 goals four times and 30 goals twice.
The teams are out there, and with the latest revelation by assistant GM Jeff Gorton that the Rangers will be aggressive at the trade deadline, there could be some serious activity over the next 13 days.
By no means am I advocating the immediate departure of Gaborik. Trading away a proven goal scorer off a team that has trouble being consistent offensively is a huge gamble. It sends a message and, if it’s not a successful move (successful as in bringing back a Cup), it’s a dud that will put fans in an uproar. Still, if Gaborik can’t rediscover a consistent scoring touch, and teams are willing to part with pieces that can help the team in both the short and long term, it can’t be ruled out automatically.
I don’t believe Gaborik is viewed as part of the core of the Rangers or in their future plans. The organization has more vital players to sign over the next two summers, and with the salary cap coming down starting next season, any cap maneuverability will be crucial. If Glen Sather can net the depth the Rangers desperately need while bringing down their salary cap numbers by trading Gaborik, it’s going to happen.
The NHL is a still a business, and the Rangers are in the business of winning a Cup for the first time since 1994. The team will consider any and all moves to make that dream a reality.