LA Kings: The Marian Gaborik trade may go down as one of the best

Do the LA Kings win the 2014 Stanley Cup without Marian Gaborik?

Drafted third overall by the Minnesota Wild in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Marian Gaborik found his way to the LA Kings during the 2013-2014 season. To that point, Gaborik broke into the NHL as an 18-year-old, logging 18 points with 18 assists for 36 points during the 2000-2001 campaign. For his efforts, he finished seventh in the Calder Trophy voting.

He remained with the Wild through the 2008-2009 season before signing a lucrative five-year contract worth $37.5M with the New York Rangers. Gaborik had long been linked to the Vancouver Canucks because he purchased a home in the area during the 2009 offseason.

Imagine how different things could have played out if he signed with the Canucks. Would Vancouver have traded him to the division rival, so they could have the best chance to win another Stanley Cup? Given he ended up in Columbus before LA, things may have remained steady, but I suppose you never know.

Speaking of Columbus, Gaborik was overshadowed by Rick Nash in New York, scoring a lackluster nine goals with 10 assists through the first 35 games of the 2012-2013 campaign. He was traded to Columbus, where his production failed to pick up, scoring a combined 22 points in 34 games.

The Trade

In March 2014, the LA Kings sent fourth-round pick Matt Frattin, a 2014 second-round pick, and a conditional third-round pick to the Blue Jackets for the services of the 31-year-old. Frattin was originally drafted by the Maple Leafs but was traded to Los Angeles after the 2012-2013 season due to his lackluster performance over almost three seasons.

Immediate Impact

Gaborik closed out the 2013-2013 regular season scoring 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 19 games, showing a glimpse of the player he once was with the Minnesota Wild. And what came next was something perhaps no one saw coming. On the way to their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons, Gaborik tallied an absurd 14 goals with 8 assists while shooting the puck at nearly an 18 percent clip in the playoffs.

On a personal note, one of my favorite goals by Gaborik during the 2014 Cup run came in Game 1 in the second round against the Ducks. Trailing 2-1 with an empty net and about 11 seconds left in the game, Gaborik was uncovered in front of the Anaheim net. A shot by Mike Richards deflected off Jonas Hiller right to Gaborik, who slapped it out of mid-air into the back of the net, tying the game. Gaborik would later score the overtime goal as well.

He continued to play at a dominant level, scoring a goal in both Game 7s against Anaheim and Chicago, sending the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals. Against his old team, Gaborik tallied two goals and an assist in the five-game series.

The Fallout

He became a free agent after the 2014 Stanley Cup and chose to remain with the Kings on a seven-year deal worth $34.1M. The following season, Gaborik looked like the player he was ten years prior, scoring 27 goals with 20 assists in 69 games at age 32.

Beyond that, the next three seasons in Los Angeles would be considered somewhat of a disappointment, as Gaborik entered his mid-30s while being limited by injuries. He never scored more than 12 goals. Before the trade deadline in 2018, the Kings and Senators hooked up for a bad contract swap, sending Gaborik to Ottawa while the Kings took on Dion Phaneuf‘s contract.

The Kings are on the hook for $4.1M of Phaneuf’s deal in the upcoming season, with $1.1M in each of the two seasons after that. Gaborik is technically still under contract, entering his final year this season for the Senators. He was placed on long-term injured reserve, missing all of the 2018-2019 season.