Addressing Gaborik Trade Rumors
I realize much of this discussion has been initiated by fans frustrated by Gabby's inconsistent season. He has 15 goals in 36 games which is respectable but no so much when you consider 10 of those have come in 3 games. They say goals come in bunches for goal scorers but if you remove those 10 goals Gabby has recorded just 5 markers in his other 33 games. That's not the type of production we expect from our star sniper.
Regardless, there may be several factors for Gabby's struggles. He had great chemistry a year ago with Vinny Prospal en route to a 42 goal season last year. Prospal has been hurt all year. Gabby also was injured and missed 14 games with a shoulder and it's possible he just hasn't found his groove.
Still, without a doubt Gaborik is the most skilled offensive forward on the Rangers roster. With the club still in possession of a playoff spot, it's doubtful the Rangers would even entertain seriously the notion of trading him. However, a report on the Ottawa Sun by Bruce Garrioch said LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi called Glen Sather to check on the availability of Gaborik.
Of course that doesn't mean anything other than Lombardi's Kings are in a dog fight for a playoff spot and would be interested in Gaborik should he be available. Lombardi's interest in Gabby is not surprising as many felt the Kings would be the team to end up with Gaborik when he was a free agent in the summer of 2009. It does not mean Slats is interested in dealing him at all.
But I am of the opinion that you never say never when it comes to listening on any player. If Lombardi wanted to make an offer I would listen. If I was a GM I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't consider any possibility when it comes to improving my hockey team.
So what could Lombardi offer me to at least get me to seriously consider moving my star sniper to LA? Let's take a look at how much Gabby means to the Rangers and what pieces the Kings may have to entice me.
First off, Gaborik is an extremely talented goal scorer. He has a terrific release. A look at the Rangers roster shows that they have 8 players who have scored 20 or more goals in a season at least once: Ryan Callahan; Brandon Dubinsky; Gaborik; Chris Drury; Alex Frolov; Ruslan Fedotenko; Todd White; and Wojtek Wolski. I didn't count Prospal since he hasn't skated for the team this year. Of those players listed, White is in Connecticut and unlikely to ever see the MSG ice again. Frolov is out for the season due to an injury. Drury and Fedotenko don't look like 20 goal scorers anymore (Drury = Bleh!!). Dubi and Cally are currently out of action but should be back in 2 or maybe 3 weeks.
In essence, what we have today is Gaborik and Wolski. Wolski has twice broken 20 goals; last year with 23 and in 2006 - 2007 when he scored all of 22. Gaborik has twice recorded 42 goals, he has 3 other 30 goal seasons and a 38 goal campaign in 9 full seasons. So, 6 times in 9 full seasons Gabby has scored at least 30 goals.
Clearly we can't trade Gabby off without getting offensive help back. Gabby has 3 years left beyond this one on his contract with a cap hit of $7.5 million annually. LA can afford that and we could take that plus some back from LA.
The Rangers really could use a defenseman who could help out our PP and also a scoring forward to replace Gabby. Any players coming in should fit into coach Tortorella's system.
If Lombardi calls me asking for Gabby I tell Dean the conversation begins with D Jack Johnson and RW Dustin Brown. Brown is on pace to score 30 goals this season and potted 33 three seasons ago. That production wouldn't completely replace Gaborik's but it would help. Brown also plays a physical game and is annually among the league leaders in hits among forwards.
Jack Johnson is a very talented young blue liner. He recently signed an extension that pays him an AAS of around $4.35 million for the next 7 seasons. His offense has begun to come around and he's on pace for better than 50 points this year after scoring 36 points last year. He's also beginning to contribute big time on the PP. He has 3 goals and 21 PP points so far and is on pace for 36 PP points this season. That would help us a lot right now.
Brown, at 26, and Johnson, 24, would also perpetuate the youth movement the Rangers have implemented. Their combined cap hits add up to just about the $7.5 million of Gabby's. Brown is a similar player to Ryan Callahan and when everyone returns healthy he could fill in anywhere in our top 9. We would lose the dynamic nature of Gaborik but we would still be able to ice 3 lines capable of scoring goals and that's not a bad thing.
Johnson would give us yet another top young defensive talent to go with Marc Staal, Dah Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Dylan McIlrath, Mike Sauer, among others. He would also immediately upgrade our PP.
I'm not advocating a move of this nature. I'm just giving you what I would ask for from Lombardi for Gaborik. I don't know if that even makes sense for the Kings but then again I don't think trading Gaborik makes a whole lot of sense for the Rangers either.
Regardless, the news that Lombardi at least inquired into Gabby gives me some fodder for a new blog and that makes me happy at least.