At this upcoming trade deadline the Columbus Blue Jackets front-office will have a tough decision to make in regards to star forward Marian Gaborik. Gaborik is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-2014 season. He is currently in the last year of a 5 year, $37.5 million deal that was signed with the New York Rangers back in 2009. As we all know, Gaborik was acquired at the trade deadline last season from the Rangers in exchange for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 6th round pick. At that point in the lockout shortened season he was having an atypical year, only netting 9 goals in 35 games. Columbus was hoping Gaborik just needed a fresh-start and perhaps give the Jackets that much needed pure goal scorer they lost when Rick Nash was dealt.
Now many can look at the numbers Gaborik put up last season and this injury plagued season and say he is either unmotivated or on the decline in his career. In 18 games this season he has netted 5 goals, has 7 helpers, and is a +2. Gaborik was sidelined with a sprained knee he suffered against the Boston Bruins, and then his first game back from IR, had his collarbone broken and is expected to miss more than a month. This will put his return time even closer to the trade deadline of March 5th. While his numbers are down in the games he has played with Columbus, there still really isn’t much of a body of work to judge if Gaborik should be traded or left to walk at the end of his contract.
I believe that Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson should take a chance. There really is nobody on the Blue Jackets that has the speed or skill that Gaborik is capable of. Ryan Johansen is emerging as the goal scorer the Jackets need, but he is still young, and Cam Atkinson has been inconsistent. Gaborik has shown that he is capable of long slumps in the past, but when he breaks out, the goals come in bunches. I think if the Jackets could re-sign Gaborik to a reasonable contract, maybe 3 years $6.5 million or something along those lines, it will pay off in the end. It’s no secret that Columbus is in the worst division in the NHL, and is likely to be in playoff contention the rest of the way. Having Gaborik return, and then keeping him through the deadline could potentially be a boost. It’s almost like making a trade without making a trade.
I say to win big you have to gamble big, and I believe keeping Gaborik through the deadline and years beyond could be beneficial to this club. Imagine a 1, 2 punch of Johansen and Gaborik netting goals, and then Horton and Dubinsky setting the tone physically. Throw in Ryan Murray, David Savard, and Tim Erixon on the blue-line, and there is a bright future with this club with Gaborik aboard. I’m not saying its a sure thing, like with any player or contract there are cons associated with the pros, but I think this is a gamble that could pay off. Let us know what you think in the comments below!