To say the Los Angeles Kings have had scoring problems this season would be a severe understatement. Despite the likes of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown, the Kings have only scored more goals than the league’s bottom-feeders in the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators.
Despite the team’s league-low 134 goals allowed spearheaded by Jonathan Quick, the Kings will have to score some goals at some point if they want to hoist the Stanley Cup again.
Enter Marian Gaborik. The flashy and oft-injured Slovakian sniper comes to the Kings when they desperately need an offensive catalyst. Gaborik is coming off a broken collarbone, but if healthy, he might be the spark to get L.A. back to the finals. Kings GM Dean Lombardi caught lightning in a bottle when he acquired sniper Carter at the trade deadline en route to the Kings’ 2011 championship. Like Carter, Gaborik is also coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets, so Lombardi appears to be going back to his proven formula.
Yes, Gaborik is an unrestricted free agent, but the price of mediocre-at-best forward Matt Frattin and two middle-round picks seems perfect for a chance at an elite goal scorer. Imagine how scary the Kings would be if they give Quick a little more goal support. That is something the rest of the Western Conference doesn’t want to think about, but will now be a reality.
Gaborik on the top line with the playmaking of Kopitar and the physicality of Brown could be the perfect fit for a shoot-first player like Gaborik. Then a second-line featuring Carter, Richards and a player like Justin Williams, Dwight King or Tyler Toffoli would make for a much-improved top-six forward unit. A third line anchored by the well-rounded Jarret Stoll would solidify the Kings’ depth.
Pair the newly configured forwards with an already stout defense, elite goaltender and plenty of experience, and it appears the Kings could be the last team standing in the dogfight known as the Western Conference.
Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks