For all of the general managers who were strongly anticipating July 1 when the hottest free agents become available, they will be dismayed to know that one of the biggest names is no longer on the list. That is because Marian Gaborik and the Los Angeles Kings have come to terms on a new seven-year contract reportedly worth just under $5 million per season. This will mean that Gaborik will be a King until the 2020-21 season. It is safe to say that this is a significant day for the Kings and their fans.
Since coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets in March, Marian Gaborik immediately made his mark and left an impact so heavy, that it could be felt as far Bakersfield.
Until being traded to Los Angeles, Gaborik played just 22 games for the Jackets in 2013-14, scoring six times while adding eight assists. But since joining the Kings, the 32-year-old took the ice for 19 regular-season games, scoring five times and 11 assists. But then the playoffs started, and Gaborik's stock had only risen further.
In 26 postseason games, Gaborik lead the entire league with 14 goals - while adding eight assists - in helping the Los Angeles kings claim their second Stanley Cup crown in three years. Of course, for Gaborik, he celebrated his first Cup and with this news, he will not be satisfied with just one.
As wonderful as this news is, Gaborik's new seven-year deal comes with a risk.
Having been notorious for being injury-prone, there is a chance that Marian Gaborik could miss a considerable amount of time on the sidelines. After all, over the course of his 13-year NHL career thus far, Gaborik has played in 70 or more regular-season games just six times. However, if the Slovakian did sign for just under $5 per year as reported, then the Los Angeles Kings could afford to buy him out three or four years down the road with his discounted price tag. Plus, as the salary cap, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will only increase with each passing year, the Kings shouldn't find themselves in any dire straits especially, especially with GM Dean Lombardi running the show.
Speaking of Lombardi, this type of transaction underlines just how valuable of a general manager the 56-year-old is.
According to capgeek.com, Marian Gaborik has made $7.5 million annually for the past six seasons. Naturally, fans were reluctant that the veteran would be retained beyond this past season giving the Kings' commitments to the likes of Doughty, Kopitar, Brown, Quick, Carter and Richards. But as per usual, Dean Lombardi made it work, signing Gaborik for much less than he was likely asking for had he tested free agency next week. This move alone makes me wonder why Dean Lombardi did not win GM of the Year honours at Tuesday night's NHL Awards. But that's an argument for another day.
Personally, seeing Marian Gaborik on the ice with Anze Kopitar made me wonder when the last time the veteran had such fluid chemistry with a linemate. Perhaps his early days in Minnesota when he was paired up with Wes Walz or even Andrew Brunette, but even then, I cannot recall such lucid teamwork. Money may be important to an extent but from personal experience, if you cannot enjoy who you work with, then there isn't any enjoyment to be had. By inking this new deal, Marian Gaborik has shown that team chemistry - not to mention success - supersede the power of the almighty dollar.
He may have already hoisted Lord Stanley's mug but the new contract has already made Marian Gaborik a winner in my books - and there is no better place for a winner to be right now that in sunny Los Angeles.