With a glut of young forwards up and around the big club this season, and with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins comfortably ahead of the Rangers for this year’s race to the Cup, the Rangers hopes of playoff success this season rest with Henrik Lundqvist and a lot of luck. In short, the Rangers aren’t likely a real threat to the dominant two of the East, right now. Therefore, this season – without giving up on it (something no Ranger should advocate) – has become in part a trial of sorts for the younger players. All of which brings us back to Marian Gaborik.
With the arrival of Jesper Fast, the Rangers have Fast, JT Miller, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello -and in the minors Christian Thomas – all potentially vying for top six berths next season. That’s a lot of youth and offensive upside batting for just a few spots. With Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash the two certainties in the top six – on the wing – there’s a few spots to be battled for; although this isn’t considering the impressive merits of the flexible Carl Hagelin (who can play up and down the line up).
The best time to trade Marian Gaborik will be in the offseason. His current form means demand won’t be as high at the deadline and the return likely less satisfactory. Meanwhile Gaborik still offers the Rangers a better chance of success this season than Kreider or any of the other kids. In addition,once the cap has been reduced in the offseason and teams know what they have to play with, Gaborik’s offensive ability and one year on his contract make him a more appealing commodity. By this point, the Rangers will/ should know a lot more about the readiness of the group of young forwards at their disposal and the timing is simply not ideal now.
The Rangers have a chance at success this year, albeit a chance that looks unlikely at the moment, and the Kings keep representing what can happen if you squeeze in to the playoffs, but the Rangers need to carefully assess whether it’s in their best interests to move an asset like Gaborik at any stage. There’s still the chance he also plays next year with the Rangers.
While Mats Zuccarello played well Monday night, it was still just one game. With Miller and Kreider very up and down as the season has progressed (often literally) Gaborik still makes sense for the Rangers right now. Gaborik’s time may be drawing to a close as a Ranger but the team needs to be careful how – and when – they choose to move a still considerable asset.