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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Kings won't be much better with Gaborik

By Scott Burnside



So we get that the Los Angeles Kings were desperate to bump up their offense.

When you're 27th in goals per game and tied for 25th on the power play, it's obvious where your trade deadline needs should be focused.

And we also know that GM Dean Lombardi knows how to address these kinds of needs, having acquired Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2012 deadline, a move that was a catalyst to the Kings' first-ever Stanley Cup championship.

Indeed, the 2012 Kings aren't all that much different from the current version in terms of their airtight defense and terrific goaltending, and their flaccid offense.

But -- and you knew this was coming, didn't you? -- not sure how the acquisition of Marian Gaborik for Matt Frattin and a couple of draft picks addresses any of these glaring offensive needs.

If the idea that a guy like Mike Cammalleri, another free-agent rental on the market, might not be best-suited for the big-boy hockey of the Western Conference, how does Gaborik make for a better fit?

How is Gaborik a better fit than Matt Moulson or Cammalleri, a former Kings prospect?

If this was all about asking price, fair enough -- the Blue Jackets are going to eat a big chunk of Gaborik's salary and the Kings sent a second- and third-round pick to Columbus -- but there is little to suggest that Gaborik can help push the Kings back into Cup contention.

Coming off a broken collarbone, Gaborik, making $7.5 million this season and headed for unrestricted free agency in July, has managed just one goal in his last 13 games for the Blue Jackets, and he has zero power-play goals this season.

Historically, Gaborik simply isn't a guy who brings his game come playoff time. In his last 31 postseason games, he has six goals, none on the power play.

Is it possible he could somehow channel the Marian Gaborik of 2003, when he scored nine times in 18 games for a surprising Minnesota Wild team? Sorry. This isn't a Harry Potter movie. You don't get to turn back time -- and in our view, time has passed Gaborik by.

All you need to know about this trade is that Columbus, as of Wednesday, held the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and is desperate to make the playoffs for what would be just the second time in franchise history -- and still, they were looking from the get-go to move Gaborik.

Are the Kings good enough not just to make the playoffs but to make a dent the way they have the last two seasons, going to the Western Conference finals last season and winning the Cup the year before? Sure.

Could Gaborik play a meaningful role in such a playoff run? Don't see it at all. And given the other options that were available, it's hard not to think the Kings might have sold themselves short.