Marian Gaborik hasn’t exactly torn up the league this season. With a very up and down campaign the Slovakian winger’s future with the Rangers is very much up in the air, something that beat writer Andrew Gross has also speculated on this week. While Gaborik is among the Rangers’ leading point scorers his production, based on his age, expectancy, and most importantly his salary cap hit is underwhelming to put it mildly. When you’re pulling down $7.5 million per season you need to deliver more than a game here and a game there.
Gaborik is just one of the problems that this Rangers team is facing at the moment. The team in its entirety seems stuck in neutral unable to get sustained, consistent performances out of anyone not named Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, or Rick Nash. The reason this team is battling for its playoff lives is that the vast majority of the roster is under performing, and that begins and ends with Gaborik (and Brad Richards).
It’s Gaborik’s contract situation however that makes his future very uncertain. With just a year on his contract and still just months removed from his latest 40-goal season, Gaborik is an intriguing piece for the Rangers to look to move, and for many teams to look to acquire. Gaborik is talented enough to be the great white hope to many fan bases while his cap hit could be better spent (again, given his current form) by the Rangers. Perhaps the only thing stopping him being actively shopped is the presence of a no trade clause, in which he presented the team with a list of eight teams he will accept a trade to.
The Rangers could look to move Gaborik, and if rumours are true that they’ve begun to sniff around guys such as Mike Ribeiro, given his cap hit, then maybe the Rangers are indeed looking to remove a significant cap hit of their own – hence Marian Gaborik speculation. Moving Gaborik also opens up options, specifically acquiring guys who are not on expiring contracts.
Gaborik is remarkably talented and regardless how this season ends, he’s been a solid addition for the Rangers since Glen Sather enticed him out of Minnesota. But it appears a divorce before his contract is up looks likely. What would make it more likely is if a player such as Corey Perry would make it to free agency. A winger who is more likely to hit the corners hard, play physical, and be more suited to coach Tortorella’s concept, Perry would be an ideal addition but would only be remotely possible with Gaborik out of the equation.
If the Rangers feel their season is slipping away from them, they may even consider moving Gaborik during this season. While the Rangers are unlikely to be ‘sellers’ to any great extreme (Would this fan base allow it? Not to mention it’s not needed), it would be a disaster if the club missed the playoffs with no first round draft pick. Gaborik should retain some solid value given his entire package and situation as well as the inflated prices at deadline day. It’s interesting, because there are already rumblings that the Rangers are willing to move Gaborik if they can make the team better and deeper.
Gaborik still has a chance to re-establish himself among the Rangers, with the fan base and the organisation. He’s still a quality player capable of ripping off prolonged scoring streaks and carrying teams offensively, but it needs to start now. With a Rangers season full of expectation very much in the balance, how Marian Gaborik ends it will decide so much for himself and the Rangers roster going forward.