Grading Gaborik’s career as a Ranger

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Photo Credit: Associated Press

Throughout the course of his career as a Ranger, I was always pretty supportive of Marian Gaborik. While I understand some fans appreciate powerforwards more so than pure snipers, I try not to weigh one skill set vs. the other. At the end of the day, teams need skill and will players to create offensive balance.

Indeed, Gaborik wasn’t one who created offense by lugging the puck through 3 zones, putting moves on 3-4 players and then finish by dekeing out the goalie. He was simply a snipeshow whose strengths were his shot release and his foot speed.

For me, the questions with Gaborik were never really about fitting our aggressive forechecking system or staying healthy, but rather about finding consistency and elevating his game.

After almost four seasons as a New York Ranger, the answers to those questions are still a bit of a mystery to me.

For starters, I don’t blame Tortorella at all. I know that last sentence alone will bring out the small contingent of fans that want to axe John, but this season’s stats don’t lie.  Torts started Gaborik in the offensive zone on 67% of his shifts (after a whistle). No other Ranger, not even Nash had that high of an OZONE start % (based on offensive vs. defensive zone faceoffs).

Tortorella was also able to deploy Gaborik against weaker puck possession players, as his Corsi Rel QoC was -0.245. The fact that Torts was able to get favorable match-ups for Gaborik without sacrificing his icetime (3rd among forwards in time-on-ice per 60 mins) is a credit to this coaching staff. So when I look at how he was used and the opportunities afforded to him, it makes sense why Glen would trade Gaborik rather than fire Tortorella.

Ultimately, John put him in a position to succeed. From there, it was up to Gaborik to produce. This year, for whatever reason, he just couldn’t get it done. If that had continued in the playoffs, we would have been toast in the first round. With these new cats onboard, who so far seem willing to forecheck and take a hit to make a play, the future looks a little brighter.

To be fair, Gaborik will likely succeed in Columbus too. There will be less pressure playing in a smaller market and he’ll be reunited with former Rangers (i.e., Dubi, Arty, Vinny, the list goes on).

If CLB eventually makes the playoffs, I know I’ll be watching Gaborik closely. In his last 31 playoff games, Gaborik scored just 6 goals and 8 assists. That point total leaves a lot to be desired for someone making $7.5m.

After four seasons on Broadway, I’d grade Gaborik with a B or B+. He came to NYC as a likable goal scorer, who lacked consistency due to health or motivation problems. He left town a slightly better version of that description.

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  • very fair grade. Gabby just was not a player that had 2 dimensions to his game and that was his downfall where as Boyle does. If the Powerplay had been successful with Gabby producing he would still be here. That being said it was a very good move to trade him. Sather brought depth and talent to the team and addressed the defense as well with adding Moore. Moore has impressed me thus far. Dorsett whom we have not watched yet will be our next Prust. Of all the players traded Columbus fans are mourning the loss of Dorsett the most.
    Yesterdays post about the log jam clearly shows that we are healthy with depth. I would keep Powe over Asham and a trade seems quite possible to move back into the draft. I am curious to see what transpires leading into and on draft day.
    A full training camp and a hopeful return to Traverse City will be awesome beginning to the start of the season and I expect the Rangers to be a dominant team next year.

    • Bob, Gaborik is definitely in the same bracket as Semin and Carter – streaky scorers who aren’t particularly effective when not impacting the score board, but Kovy is a level above. He’s lethal, demands attention and is respected on special teams because of his shot and his breakaway-ability. Gaborik isn’t the same threat on a game by game basis as Kovy.

    • Bob, putting stats aside I think you could make an argument that Gaborik is similar to Semin in that he doesn’t want to lug the puck through 3 zones, which is something Kovy excels at. Both Semin and Gaborik are more transition offense-type players. Not guys that want to forecheck or go below the dots to make a play.

      The biggest difference between the two probably has less to do with specific skills and more to do with personality. I don’t think I’ve ever read any comments from other teammates complaining about Marian’s effort the way many Caps players complained about Semin. Though, that’s being annectdotal.

      Jeff Carter is a different cat than any of the players mentioned. He doesn’t have the game breaking speed the way Gaborik and Semin do and he’s not like Kovy who uses his frame to protect the puck and hold on to it for long stretches of time. He’s probably somewhere in the middle. Again, being annectdotal, it seems his effort level has been questioned before. So in that respect they could be similar.

      Gun to my head, I’d take Kovy over Gaborik and Gaborik over Semin or Carter.

  • I have a different take on this. I don’t think the problem was Gaborik’s a sniper, but I think he didn’t know what his role on the team was any longer. Last year he took a bubble team and made them a contender. If the Rangers thought they needed someone who fit Torts model better, they should have traded Gaborik for Nash. You can’t have two super stars on a team. Malkin is invisible until Sid is gone and then he is the star. I don’t think any of this is Torts fault either, but it is the GM’s.

    • Respectfully, I don’t agree at all. Malkin and Sid won a Cup together, as have many talented teams with multiple stars. Ego was never an issue with this team or with Gaborik specifically.

      As for team fit, Gaborik can skate and leave defenses in the dust – when he wanted to. Guys with speed fit in any system, passive or aggressive.

      To me the problem was we had too many holes up front and the only way to fill those holes was to trade one very good player. It easily could have been Richards going the other way, but Richie and Torts have a longstanding relationship built on mutal trust. Gaborik didnt. Of course, having 8 years left on Richie’s deal probaly saved him as well.

  • Snipers need attention. Plays designed for them. The way the league is changing…and it is changing, is to play a team game.

    Play hard, block shots, work the walls.

    You need what they call generalized specialists…kinda like IT work. Someone who isn’t tops in one category but very good in multiple catagories.

    You can have a great sniper, but that sniper needs to also be able to do other things as well. Teams used to be built around playmaking centers, with a sniper and a power forward on as many lines as possible. Now you need everyone on that line to work the walls, play defense, and drive the net.

    The reality of it now is that you need everyone on the team to have a little bit of everything to be effective.

    The days of offensive and defensive players is coming to an end. Now to be effective, you need to be able to skate, pass, check, score, and be strong on the puck more so now than ever before.

    Give me 20 callahans and I will give you a cup.

    • Agreed. Gabby is just very one dimentional. All he has is his great shot, and the jets when he wants to put them on. We all know he cant carry the puck up the ice, his board work is horrible and his vision on the ice is not there. He killed more offensive zone chances than anyone else with his BAD puck decision work when under just the slightest pressure. All he really needed to do with us was know how to get to an open spot on the ice and let our great puck passers get him the puck for his shot. He could not even do that. His legs stood still. I am glad to see him gone. I dont hate the man, he is just to one dimentional for this current team. Torts gave him more opportunities than he should have had. And to all the Torts haters…. he is one of the fairest coaches you will ever find. Hi understands so well what his players abilities are and all he asks is that they give him a 100% effort every game.

  • A load of very interesting points made by all who posted, but not a soul mentioned that Gabby could have stayed, had he been motivated.

    The man was going thru the motions, and there lies the problem. There are very few players who, when signed to a long term, attractive contract, continue to play with the motivation, drive, and or heart as they did before the contract was signed.

    Over the history of this organization, we have, and probabily will continue to sign players to long term deals, and not get our money’s worth. Does Richards sound familiar???

    Your grade of B-B+ is fair, he did provide some exciting moments, and for that I’ll thank him, and wish him the best.

  • Nice discussion and I think the conclusions are right. I might note though that it is not obvious that he was used in a favorable way. Offensive zone starts aren’t right for everyone. They do minimize the transitional game and even minimize the importance of speed. Also, playing against good defensive players, rather than true stars, likely gives a good +/- or Corsi, but it may not maximize goals or points.

    I don’t disagree with what Torts did. Gabby didn’t seem defensively capable enough to be used in another way, but the usage didn’t take full advantage of his skill set either.

  • “After four seasons on Broadway, I’d grade Gaborik with a B or B+. He came to NYC as a likable goal scorer, who lacked consistency due to health or motivation problems. He left town a slightly better version of that description.”
    EXACTLY my opinion. It describes perfectly that the trade was a good deal – and Brassard and Moore are proving themselves great additions (I just liked what I saw from both vs Leafs).

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