Gaborik’s future may hinge on the prospects

Could Zuccarello's arrival mean the end for Gaborik?
Could Zuccarello’s arrival mean the end for Gaborik?

There’s a strong chance that after such an impressive performance against the Flyers (no matter how unimpressive the Flyers have been this year) that John Tortorella will stick with the line-up that pulled out the victory, and certainly the 5-2 win perhaps affords the coaching staff time with re-acquainting themselves with Mats Zuccarello. That said, when Zuccarello does eventually re-enter the line-up – and he will, why else bring him back? – his play will have a significant impact on the future of Marian Gaborik.

The Rangers have a young roster and enough moving parts that cap space isn’t a huge concern at the moment, even if it does need monitoring for next year. However, moving Gaborik or buying out Richards gives the Rangers much more maneuverability going forward. Therefore, a successful return by Zuccarello and/or an immediate impact by the also incoming Jesper Fast make Gaborik a luxury.

Amid all the positive performances against the Flyers, Gaborik wasn’t bad. That however doesn’t cut it, especially as young players such as Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto and Carl Hagelin all stepped up to play strong games in a hostile building. Throw another two potential top six wingers into the mix and Gaborik’s cap hit may become unnecessary. With Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan entrenched in the top six wing positions. the mix of Hagelin, Kreider, Miller, Zuccarello and Fast is exciting, young and cheap.

What bodes well for Zuccarello’s immediate inclusion Thursday is the quickly approaching trade deadline and the still inconsistent Rangers powerplay. While ‘Zuke’ could help spark the latter, moving Gaborik could too (think Boyle, Dan). Essentially, the upcoming games against the Senators, the always tough Canadiens, and the Jets next Monday could be an audition to see whether this team can move forward this season without Gaborik.

Gaborik has simply been frustrating this season. He’s flashed his obvious brilliance, but not enough to without-doubt-justify keeping him beyond this year at the expense of depth. One just needs to look at how the Chicago Blackhawks struggled initially (after winning the Cup) with the depth that they lost – and their subsequent over reliance on their top players – to see how Gaborik’s cap hit could be the crucial difference to the Rangers building a long term, deep contender.

While small in stature, and still relatively unproven, Zuccarello’s impact in the coming days could be huge. His play could help shape the Rangers roster for the coming seasons whether he himself is in the long term plans of Coach Tortorella or not. The next few days could act as a play in. Can Gaborik re-emphasise his importance or could a potential saviour from the nether regions of the KHL emerge. Not just for playoff points, but the next three Rangers games could tell us so much more about the future.

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  • I think Gaborik will be resigned even if he does return to form next season. There’s too many contracts to pay out, and too many players that are capable of stepping up to collectively fill his shoes.

    He’s going to want an Alex Semin esque contract after this deal expires and I think it’d be a mistake for the Rangers to give it to him. He’ll still be a premier player in the league when he leaves, but it’s becoming apparent the Rangers have “outgrown” Gaborik. Credit that to Sather and the teams drafting and scouting departments.

  • I felt horrible for Gaborik last night, what with all the points accumulating up and down the roster. The fact that he couldn’t get on the scoresheet amid such an offensive team performance, I knew he was going to take heat this morning.

  • So i guess if Gabby goes on a roll and has 25 goals by the end of the year , you still keep him . Also last night the 2ed Flyer goal was scored off the face off from the off sides caused by Gabbby have the puck shot into him by a flyer and should not have been down in our end of the ice but at the blue line . CK played a much better game last night going to the net and fighting for pucks along the boards . Like JTM at center better then on the wing that being said he needs to put a few in the net . Hags needs to put a few of his brkawys away also .. He does open the ice up for Nash and Step tho .Did like the lines tonight they all have something on them , a little D and a little O .But what do we do now about Zucc , don’t think he will play in Ottawa but when he gets into the line up he needs to play top line minutes to be effective and PP time
    Zucc BR CK
    Hags Step Nash
    Cally JTM Gabby
    Ashem Boyle powe /Haley
    Need to have Pyatt watch a few , but would not waive him . Powe is our best PKer but we can make up for that . Nash needs to play more on the PK it gets him into the game more , also CK killed penalties in Ct some thing to look into next year when putting team together . Nice balance with the lines last night , and BR played a lot better but needs to string together a few more games like this and keep Gabby and Nash away from him . Tough road ahead but if we do it we will be ok going forward

  • Based off of current stats/games played be each player, the Rangers’ top six are on pace for the following in an 82 game season:

    Nash: 35-47-82
    Stepan: 25-38-63
    Gaborik: 23-25-48
    Hagelin: 20-25-45
    Richards: 14-36-50
    Callahan: 25-17-42

    I’m satisfied with Nash’s point-per-game pace (I don’t think anyone should expect much more than that). I’m also thoroughly impressed with Stepan’s pace for 25 goals and 60+ points (Colorado can keep their Ryan O’Reilly). Hagelin’s production has been adequate, although I think he has the skill to pot much more than 20 goals on a full season.

    Then, we get to Gaborik, who while on pace for the 20/20 club, really isn’t producing at an acceptable level. 48 points in an 82 game season is unacceptable; as is Richards’ 50 points. Such a disappointment this season. Also, would like to see Callahan produce more. He’s solid in the goals category, on pace for 25, but 17 assists in a full season is pretty low. Granted, we know the Captain does everything else imaginable, and so he deserves a pass, but it would be nice to see him contribute more at even strength.

    • Gaborik has also had two seasons similar to this one, 03-04 and 10-11. He seems to rebound just find and I expect nothing less. He can be an elite scorer within Torts’ system and put the puck in the back of the net. He’s struggling right now yes, but maybe that shoulder is still bothering him. Remember that even without a lockout, he maybe was going to come back January with February more likely. It took time for Staal to get back into a flow after coming back, and maybe Gaby should be cut some slack. He’s still getting chances, just not finishing like normal. I’d like to see him in a Rangers jersey for the foreseeable future.

      • If you want Gaby to start scoring again and return to top form,then the head coach need to be replaced. Gaby and Torts are like oil an vinniger they just dont mix. One must go. I vote for Torts to go.

        • How do they not go? Gaby has scored over 40 goals in two of three seasons with Torts as his coach… how is Torts the problem?

          • Torts is much more critical of Gaby this year and he is intimidated by Torts. Torts need to let him play his game and noot being afraid to be benched for whole periods. This is just my opinion but Gaby does not respond to bullying which Torts like to do to his players.

          • He was just as critical last year and benched him occasionally…he’s a pro athlete and needs to get past that.

            Besides, he’s been given plenty of freedom lately and has had his chances (breakaways, a penalty shot, open shots) and he hasn’t been finishing. Torts is not on his case lately and it’s up to him at this point.

          • Bullying, like that game where Gabby was slamming his stick for missing a chance, the game went to a shootout and Torts pointed to Gaborik and said “you’re first.” You’re absolutely right, Torts is a tyrant! Sic semper tyrannis!

    • I am still in the belief that Gaborik’s shoulder is still affecting him this year. As for Richards, just think it’s a down year.

  • I know this is a little off topic but I think the strong play of Stepan is making it that much easier for the organization to use the second amnesty buyout on Richards. While this would undoubtedly weaken out depth at center in the near term, Richards play since he’s been with Rangers has come close to justifying his contract. Clearing his contract would provide the breathing room needed to keep the young core together as they come up for new contracts.

    • Adam

      Lets not forget that the better of the young Swedes is Oscar Lindberg, who just happends to be a center!!!!!

      Then you have Step, JT Miller, Lindberg, and Boyle, that is if they don’t trade him, or Newbury.

        • He had a break out year, and did more than his fair share of scoring. I believe that he may have led the SEL, but I won’t bet on it! Jess Rubinstein on the Prospect Park web site had a lot of good things to say about him.

  • I don’t get this whole Zuccarello thing. He is used to playing on bigger ice which is a different game from the NHL. I remember him being great at the shoot-outs, but I also remember him getting pushed off the puck a lot.

    • Remember the last time he played in the NHL? When he came back up from the minors and tore it up.

    • Sorry Sally’ hate to dis-agree with you but dont let Zucc’s size sterotype him into a player thats soft on the puck. If anything thats whats amazing about him being only 5-7″. His Hockey sense and the way he protects the puck is one of his greatest strenghts.

  • I thought the Miller-Gaborik-Callahan line was weak although Miller seemed to do OK. The other lines all had great chemistry.

  • So, this is thinking way outside the box, but does anyone else think that the Zuke signing might turn into a sign&trade?

    My understanding of Zukes situation is that he was still NYR property due to them tendering him a qualifying offer.

    Now, what if there were a team that wants Zuke and has items the Rangers are looking for.

    Perhaps NYR signed him and are waiting to fully get him over here and play a game or two before pulling the trigger on a trade of him.

    We already know Torts isnt a fan, and that wont change… so as people have mentioned… its a curious move, to say the least.

    I doubt it would be any kind of a 1:1 trade… but could be part of a potential blockbuster.

    • not going to happen. He made it clear before returning to NY.that the only team he is willing to play is the Rangers.

        • True, but he can also return to Europe and play in the SEL or the KHL. So he does have a choice.

          • Like I said… outside the box thinking. Do I think it will happen? Nope… but Im not willing to outright dismiss it, either.

        • Maybe during the off season, but it’s going to be pretty hard as the deadline is April 3rd and teams will want to see how he does in NHL…given the time frame (max 4 games), it may be hard to make a case. If he’s a reasonable replacement for Gabby, given his current performance, Gabby would be more likely given he would be much more sought after and we would get more in return. I don’t think an unproven Zucc would get much in return that would make a trade worth it.

          • In the even more out-of-the-box range I was thinking the trade might be Gabby+Zucc+Pick for Roster Player+Depth player

            Zucc isnt completely unproven at the NHL level. Obviously people would want to see current examples, but in a pinch to seal up some kind of big trade.

            … I can see it… remotely.

          • That makes a little bit of sense, especially with a more finesse team. I do think with all the factors (Zucc’s desire to play with NYR, short timeline, etc) does make it unlikely, but it follows a pretty logical narrative. Plus Zucc did express he wanted this shot at the NHL because “it’s the best league”. If given a chance, he may not be so stubborn about only playing for NYR.

  • Gabby has turned into the Roberto Alomar of this team. He has been invisible out there for some time. It is a shame that he has aged out so rapidly.

    • I don’t think he’s done yet…he goes back and forth between the 40 goal seasons and like others have stated he JUST came back from surgery. He wouldn’t have been back until January/February even if the season started on time.

      Since he just scored over 40 last year, I think it’s a little early to say he aged out. With that said, if he could be traded for a good return, I would support it. If he’s on the team going into the playoffs I wouldn’t feel bad about it either.

  • Anyone that thinks that size is an issue is off their rocker.

    Hockey is more than size and weight…its about desire. The desire to alter the reality of physics.

    There was this one guy who used to play, He was 5’6″ 180 lbs of speed guts and would hit people like a wrecking ball.

    His name was Theo Fleury, and while the tail end of his career was less than stellar…man was he a sight to watch.

    If Zucc can show that same desire and reckless abandon…he is good in my book.

    • Agreed Mikeyyy, but probably because I’m not exactly the tallest dude in the world.

      I think there are some limits as to how you play, but guys like St. Louis, Theo Fleury, etc show you can play in the league and Theo Fleury showed you can play a physical game.

      Playing in the corners doesn’t mean you have to knock everyone on their asses (although it’s nice), just fighting hard for the puck. Zucc won’t be confused with Rick Nash, but his offensive vision can help open some chances up and he plays bigger than his diminutive size (although he’s a giant to me).

      He can be an effective depth guy and especially big help on the PP with his vision/creativity.

  • Gaborik isn’t going anywhere this year.

    There isn’t one person out there that would make the Rangers a better team for the playoffs.

    Not one, that is on the trading block for April 3.

  • I’ve always been a fan of looking at body language. Gabby, this year, just seems disinterested and lost. Every time the play stops, he just kind of skates around like he doesn’t want to be there. Compare that to the concentration that Cally has, or excitement of Nash (who always looks like he can’t wait for stoppage to end and puck to drop).
    I’ve noticed similar behavior in Ovechkin (to compare). Earlier this year, he looked like he was being forced to play hockey. But during the last game against us, he looked focused, fired up and ready to play. You could just tell by his posture on the bench that he was going to be a difference maker. Just don’t see that from Gabby anymore.

    • Your right, it appears that the fire in the gut is out. Maybe, and this is no excuse, but over the years, and so many injuries, he may have burnt himself out. With the shoulder surgery, he may have lost the desire!!!!!

  • He looks gassed too. I don’t think his conditioning is up to snuff this year.

    I think a 10 game conditioning assignment in the whale is in order.

    I really think if he can light the lamp down there a bunch , it can ignite his mojo…and maybe that needs to happen so he can see if he really want it.

    • The conditioning thing wouldn’t surprise me, especially coming off shoulder surgery, might not have done as much off-season conditioning…then without the grueling training camp conditioning, it may be have hard for him to get into the groove by in game conditioning. I dunno, but something is up with him…he doesn’t seem to be turning on the jets often and looks generally gassed.

      • Haha Mikeyyy you blame Torts for killing Gabby’s confidence and you want to send him to the minors? Yea that’s a real ego boost.

        • There is a difference in giving a player time to regroup and throwing him under a bus.

          Reading the gabby body language. It doesn’t look like what torts is currently doing is helping. Gotta come up with something else.

          A 10 game stint isn’t a demotion. It’s a stint.

  • I believe that Zuc is being overrated and Gaborik being underrated. Gaborik is frustrating and has not played up to his potential.but in the end if he is not hurt he will come up with some important plays. Right now he is not worth the cap hit but until we have something better or collectively better than he needs to stay. By the way it is no joke coming back from a torn labrum.. not too long ago players did not return from shoulder injuries (remember Barry Beck?). My guess is that he is not 100% and avoiding some contact and that is affecting the whole game.

  • I don’t believe Gabs offensive production has anything to do with Torts. I also believe Gaboriuk is working his ass off trying to produce. While he still remains a good hockey player, he has lost a step. His 40 goal seasons are behind him.

  • Really hope they don’t get rid of Gabby. This team needs his speed and other teams still have to account for that. Gabby is 100x better then Zucc. Die hard fan for over 30 years. I also remember Zuccarello getting pushed off the puck as one poster said earlier. Can’t get rid of Gabby unless you can get a scorer in return. Gabby will bounce back. Loved his goal against Florida on the break away. It was like he was launched from a rocket.

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