When the Rangers signed Marian Gaborik before the 2009 season, they knew what type of player they were getting. When healthy, Gaborik is an elite scorer in the NHL, with skills that make it almost impossible to defend against him. In eight previous seasons, Gaborik had reached the 30 goal mark five times. He averaged a point per game in four of those seasons. But therein lies the problem, his health.
Gaborik’s groin had always been an issue, dating back to 2001 when he missed three games with that wonky groin. In 2005, Gaborik missed six games with a groin injury. In 2007, it was another 34 games. He missed another three games in 2008 because of his groin, but other injuries (back, hip) caused Gaborik to miss all but 17 games before he signed with the Rangers. In fact, excluding his 2007-2008 season, Gaborik hadn’t played 70 games in a season since his 2002-2003 campaign.
But, the Rangers took the risk, and after a new procedure on his groin (the same one that Alex Rodriguez had done), Gaborik appeared to be a new man. He only missed significant time last season (17 games) when he separated his shoulder. He missed six games with a concussion that year as well, but his other injuries have been of the day-to-day variety (or the freak accident type). In three years with the Rangers, he has missed only one game due to his groin.
Gaborik has been amazingly durable through his first three years as a Ranger, and makes the organization look extremely smart in this risky signing. With a pair of 40 goal seasons already under his belt, Gaborik is the elite scorer the Rangers had desperately needed when Jaromir Jagr left town. And now with Brad Richards in the mix, if Gaborik can remain healthy, he could be one of those rare free agent signings that actually works out.