Until Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson were (finally) dealt at the stroke of noon yesterday, the highest-profile acquisition of the day was made by the Los Angeles Kings. In getting Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Kings got a player that, according to Luc Robitaille, was the guy they wanted all along. But is he the guy we should want? Let's break down yesterday's trade.
- We'll let Jon Rosen take this one:
Based on conversations I’ve had with the team’s hockey operations, the Kings have been hot on Gaborik for quite some time, and he appeared to be the team’s top target at the trading deadline.
- Players that were not traded for Marian Gaborik: Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Justin Williams, and so on. Matt Frattin was perhaps the most expendable roster player on the Kings; to only give him up (with picks) was a win.
- Dean Lombardi does not believe in rentals. His big deadline acquisition in 2012, Jeff Carter, was locked up until 2022. His big deadline acquisition in 2013, Robyn Regehr, was due to be a free agent but was re-signed a month before free agency even began. Lombardi is confident that he'll be able to lock up Gaborik as well. If he does that, it's a win.
- The biggest reason the Jeff Carter trade paid off was that it filled out a definitive top six for the Kings, one that stayed intact for the entire 2012 playoff run. Going off of this morning's line rushes, the Kings have the same top six set up with Gaborik in place of Dustin Penner.
- The best-case scenario: Gaborik recaptures his goal-scoring form. He's the fifth-most prolific scorer at even strength since 2007, and there's an argument to be made that Columbus didn't suit him at all. Is that why his scoring dropped? Let's hope so. Robert outlined what our expectations should be here.
- Why did I say "recaptures"? Because Gaborik's lost a great deal of productivity. If you only take into account 2010-11 and after, Gaborik drops from fifth to 17th. If you go from 2012-13 and after, he's much further down the list (89th among those who played at least ten minutes per game.)
- Gaborik was a deadline deal just last year, and his time in Columbus didn't go well. Via Fox Sports Ohio:
He never seemed to meld with the identity of a team whose professed playing style is speed, energy, and hard work... From the day he arrived in Columbus, Gaborik left you wanting a little more. The breakaway speed and the game-breaking goals were simply not part of his game with the Blue Jackets, at least not in any sustained way.The Kings are looking for Gaborik to provide speed, and energy, and hard work. Those need to result in goals. Is Gaborik capable of doing that?
- The Kings essentially abandoned the idea of going after Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson, and both went for lower prices than Gaborik. Moulson, in particular, is a safer bet than the riskier Gaborik and Vanek. Again, the Kings chose Gaborik partially for the likelihood of locking him up long-term, but they could have gone in the wrong direction at a more expensive price.
- Back to this morning's line rushes: Gaborik's arrival bumps Tyler Toffoli down to the third line. Toffoli's scoring has cooled off a little, but he was in a top-six role and was comfortable with it. This throws him right back into the bottom six, which limits his potential. (Bright side: he's with Jarret Stoll and Dwight King, which forms a line that is at least capable of scoring.)
- What if Gaborik gets hurt? That's the obvious worst-case scenario, and let's be honest: it's Marian Gaborik. It's not far-fetched. Gaborik returned from injured reserve just one week ago after recovering from a broken collarbone. You're welcome to take Nick's side on this if the worst happens, but it'd still be highly disappointing not to get his contributions for the whole remainder of the season.
- Matt Frattin was supposed to be a young, cheap scoring option, and was the only forward we got back for Jonathan Bernier. This trade essentially concedes that the Frattin experiment didn't work, and as many have pointed out, Bernier was essentially traded for Gaborik. Let's hope this one does work.
Having said all that, tell us what you think about this move.