I am not one to point fingers, but I think general manager Dean Lombardi likes a high-stakes game of poker.
One week ago I wrote a brief piece on the recent struggles of the Los Angeles Kings and said if history was any indication of how things would develop, they would ride through the storm and find a way to succeed. Lombardi has seemed to always make the right deal at the right time. The trade deadline wrapped up yesterday at 3 p.m. EST, and about one hour before all was said and done the Kings’ move started to make it to the airwaves. It was going to be Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles for Kings forward Matt Frattin.
Gaborik will be in uniform tonight for the first time alongside his new teammates against a Winnipeg Jets team that has plenty to play for. They are only one point out of the final playoff spot and have managed to come away with points in eight of their last ten. Unfortunately, one of their bright young stars Mark Scheifele went down with a MCL injury and is set to be out for the next 6-8 weeks, a big blow to the team this late in the season. The Kings will look to extend their winning streak to six and show off their new-look lineup featuring the Slovakian sharpshooter.
Gaborik is a three-time 40+ goal scorer, and when healthy he is definitely a force on the ice. The last three years he has been plagued with injuries, most recently a broken collarbone keeping him out of the lineup for most of the season. He is said to be 100 percent and back on track.
He will likely be paired with Anze Kopitar, arguably one of the best playmakers in the world, allowing the newcomer to feel very comfortable right from the beginning. Darryl Sutter is sure to shake up lines to see where Gaborik best fits, and his next option would be to put him alongside struggling forward Mike Richards. Richards has posted just two goals in his last 38 games, but with a solid target like Gaborik it could spark the Ontario native back to top-level form. For Gaborik, it will be extra motivation to be on board with a contender. Having that postseason run to look forward to will only improve his game.
With less than 20 games remaining we won’t have to wait long to see if Lombardi’s latest bet will pay off.