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Numbers Game: Kings bring in Gaborik

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Scott Cullen
3/5/2014 4:08:07 PM
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The Los Angeles Kings pulled the trigger to get a veteran scoring winger, one that is a few years away from his best production.

Numbers Game breaks down the Kings' deal for Marian Gaborik.

The Kings Get: RW Marian Gaborik.

Gaborik, 32, has been one of the premier goal-scorers in the league, but is also a couple years removed from real top level production.

From 2001-2002 through 2011-2012, he scored 306 goals in 651 games, his 0.47 goals per game ranked fourth among players that played in at least 500 games over that span.

In the past two seasons, however, Gaborik has a meagre 18 goals and 41 points in 69 games, not near his previous level of production and it's not just by some run of bad luck. Gaborik is averaging 2.14 shots on goal per game this season, easily the lowest mark of his career, and his 16:25 time on ice per game is his lowest since his rookie season of 2000-2001. He's also missed time with a broken collarbone, returning to the lineup after the Olympics.

Going to Los Angeles, Gaborik has an opportunity to add a new dimension to the Kings, a grinding team that doesn't have anyone that can match Gaborik's speed. If he can recapture some of his goal-scoring touch, playing for a dominant possession team, then Gaborik might rehabilitate some of his rep as a scorer while, at the same time, providing a much-needed offensive boost for a team that ranks 27th with 2.32 goals per game this season.

If Gaborik moves into a top line role with the Kings, that should mean that a winger that has been playing in the top six -- one of Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams -- will get bumped into a third-line role and that is a positive in terms of the Kings' overall forward depth.

Gaborik is in the final year of a deal that pays him $7.5-million per season, but half of his salary was retained by the New York Rangers, in order to facilitate his trade to Columbus, so he's not particularly cost prohibitive three quarters of the way through the season.

The Blue Jackets Get: RW Matt Frattin, a second-round (Toronto's 2014 or 2015 pick) and a conditional third-round pick in 2014 or 2015.

Frattin is a 26-year-old winger who had shown some offensive ability with Toronto (scoring 15 goals and 28 points in 82 games) before this current season in Los Angeles, during which he's scored two goals and six points in 40 games.

While Frattin's lack of production can be tied to a low on-ice shooting percentage (4.59%), his relative possession stats were not good despite getting easy minutes -- not facing tough competition and starting 58.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone.

At this point, Frattin is basically a fringe NHL winger and he'll have to compete for playing time with the likes of Corey Tropp and Blake Comeau. Frattin, at an $875,000 cap hit through the end of the season, will be a restricted free agent in the summer.

The second and third-round picks, combined, present about a 40% chance of yielding an NHL player, so it's entirely possible that the Blue Jackets could go into next season with little to show in return for Gaborik, but that's a reflection of the decline in Gaborik's productivity. If he was the same as the three-time 40-goal scorer that he has been in the past, then the Blue Jackets a) would have been more inclined to keep him or b) would have been able to extract a more substantial price in return.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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