In a move reminiscent of an important trade they made two years ago to acquire Jeff Carter for their 2012 playoff run, the Los Angeles Kings turned to the Columbus Blue Jackets once again to boost their floundering offence, acquiring Marian Gaborik for winger Matt Frattin and two draft picks.
In Gaborik, the Kings have a player that could potentially slide onto the No. 1 line alongside Anze Kopitar and permit coach Darryl Sutter to reunite Carter with Mike Richards on the second line.
Los Angeles has been on a roll of late – five consecutive wins, after playing poorly just before the Olympic break. Their recent surge has helped the Kings put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack in the Pacific Division, opening up a nine-point lead over their nearest pursuers, the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Kings were kicking the tires on three players – Gaborik, the Buffalo Sabres' Matt Moulson and the Calgary Flames' Michael Cammalleri. They had limited interest in Thomas Vanek, whose price tag was far beyond what they were prepared to pay.
Gaborik joined the Blue Jackets at last year's trading deadline, in the hopes that his presence in the Columbus lineup would get them into the playoffs. Instead, they fell just short. In his 13-year career, Gaborik has only gone on two extended playoff runs – once with Minnesota in 2003 and again with the Rangers in 2012. But his contributions in that run were limited – 11 points in 20 games – because of coach John Tortorella's unwillingness to use him in certain situations. It ultimately paved the way for his exit from Manhattan.
But Gaborik is only two seasons removed from a 41-goal campaign and the hope in Los Angeles is that he is a good fit into their line-up. Los Angeles was the 2012 Stanley Cup champion and made it to the final four last year.