After winning their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, the Los Angeles Kings top priority moving into the off season was re-signing the man who silenced all of his doubters this postseason: Marian Gaborik. After signing a non-lucrative, seven-year deal at a discounted rate, Gaborik is set to be in LA for a long time, assuring that the possibility of a future dynasty is well in the making.
Gaborik, who came in a trade deadline deal with Columbus, played in just 22 regular season games with the Blue Jackets due to a collar bone injury. After the trade, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen was quoted as saying, “You can have a big name and a big career, but it can be hard to find a fit somewhere.” Continuing on, Kekalainen simply said, “He just didn’t fit.”
Fortunately for the Kings, the fit was more than perfect. Gaborik went on to lead all players this postseason in playoff goals with 14, which was also just one tally shy of tying a franchise record set by Wayne Gretzky in the 1993 NHL Playoffs. His clutch postseason performance was certainly one to remember, as he racked up a total of 22 points, including 10 total points in the Kings second round matchup with the Anaheim Ducks, which led all players in that series. That performance included a late game-tying and game-winning goal in Game One, making Gaborik the first NHL player in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to score a game-tying goal in the final 10 seconds of a game, followed by a game-winning goal in that very same contest in overtime.
The signing of Marian Gaborik does not come as much of a surprise. However, the length and the amount does. In free agency, Gaborik could have easily gotten the $7 million/year he was asking for. Nonetheless, the taste of winning a Stanley Cup for the first time in his 14-year career proved to be enough for the Kings to have him resign for a much cheaper price. His seven-year deal equates to him making $4.875 million annually, saving the team a ton of money in order to possibly help secure future championships.
With the exception of two players (Mitchell, King), and now with Gaborik resigned, Los Angeles will be coming into the 2014-15 season with every player returning from this Stanley Cup run. With all of their players returning to sunny LA for one more season, Gaborik’s signing actually secures a very good shot at hoisting Lord Stanley for many years to come.
With Gaborik resigned, the Los Angeles Kings will be able to keep their championship core intact for at least another four years. This core includes forwards Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik, defensemen Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Matt Greene and probably most importantly, goaltender Jonathan Quick. The only core player not mentioned above is Anze Kopitar because he is only signed for another two more seasons. However, do not expect Kings President and GM Dean Lombardi to let him go very easily, especially with roughly $30 million to spare.
If that news does not get skeptics in LA a little excited at an opportunity to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champions in over 15 years, then perhaps the newest rumors coming out of the “Windy City” will build more confidence. The Chicago Blackhawks are now reportedly shopping forward Patrick Sharp, an integral piece to their own championship dreams. With Sharp’s departure, the light that is guiding the Kings on the road to a repeat title just got a little brighter.
Nonetheless, even if the Blackhawks were able to retool or get even better, after the journey the Kings took this year in order to lift Lord Stanley, anything next year, by comparison, would appear to be a walk in the park. This postseason, Los Angeles became the first team in NHL Playoffs history to win three consecutive Game Sevens- on the road– in order to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. That is not the only history the Kings made on this incredulous and tiring, but completely gratifying championship run. In their first round series with the San Jose Sharks, the Kings became just the fourth team in NHL history to come back in a best-of-seven series down three games-to-none.
Marian Gaborik’s discounted signing displays a very scary future for teams having to play the Kings for seasons to come and proves that something special is certainly brewing in the City of Angels. He has chosen to come back, for much cheaper than the market had suggested, solely in the confidence that the Los Angeles Kings are here to stay as Stanley Cup champions for a long time. The word “dynasty” has been thrown around a lot in recent times in the hopes that one team would finally step up to fill that role. With this signing, the Los Angeles Kings just took the first step in solidifying their chances at being the first team in over 25 years to finally fulfill those expectations.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles