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Friday, January 2, 2009
Gaborik could be finished with the Wild

One comment in a 15-minute conference call with media Friday spoke a thousand words for Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough.

The team made it official Friday that star winger Marian Gaborik, as we speculated in this space Thursday night, will undergo hip surgery Monday.

He'll be out about 10 weeks, which means a mid-March return, and that pretty much kills any chance of Risebrough moving his prized asset and pending free agent before the March 4 trade deadline.

"I'm disappointed that he won't be here with us for this point of the season," Risebrough said. "But this is the choice that Marian's made. I have no other comment."

We underline the part where Risebrough says, "the choice that Marian's made." While the general manager doesn't say it, it's clear to us that the Wild would have liked to look at options other than surgery. So be it. It's a player's decision when it comes to his body, and he clearly got medical advice to take care of the hip now.

As we said Thursday night, not being able to move Gaborik before March 3 means the Slovak star might simply walk away from Minnesota on July 1 as an unrestricted free agent, with the Wild getting nothing in return.

There is a window, however, between the end of the season and July 1 when the Wild could recoup some value by trading away his rights. The Toronto Maple Leafs tried to do this with then-pending free agent Mats Sundin at the NHL entry draft this past June in Ottawa, but the Montreal Canadiens weren't able to convince Sundin to sign. The Leafs got nothing in return since Sundin hit the free-agent market and finally last month joined the Vancouver Canucks.

What now for the Wild? Risebrough indicated he'll look around and see what's available. But regardless of what he does, the Gaborik situation really stings. The Wild are a well-built organization, but plain bad luck is likely going to cost them huge asset value.

The good news is, they'll have money to spend this summer.