Coming into the NHL offseason, there appeared to be at least one certainty: Marian Gaborik was going to get paid.
Acquired by the Los Angeles Kings at this past season’s trade deadline, Gaborik flat out dominated the postseason, netting a league-leading 14 goals. Such an offensive output was huge for a Kings team not really known for their ability to score often, and played a big role in their Stanley Cup victory.
Gaborik, coming into the summer as a free agent, was sure to receive attention from plenty of teams, likely to receive offers on what may be his final contract. However, any team looking to try and woo him with dollar signs no longer needs to bang out a deal, as L.A. officially signed Gaborik to a seven year, $34 million contract today.
It was a wise move for the Kings, as Gaborik looks to build off of his incredible postseason performance. What’s more notable, though, is the numbers of his latest deal.
Gaborik’s contract features an annual cap hit of $4.875 million, a significant drop from what he’s been paid in the past. His last deal saw him receiving a yearly salary of $7.5 million, but Los Angeles was able to successfully convince him to drop almost $3 million in his new contract.
It’s important to note Gaborik has a pretty bad history when it comes to staying healthy. For these reasons, the Kings were probably wary of giving him a ton of money. However, you just know he would’ve received a higher offer from another team this summer, one so desperate to make a significant splash they would ignore his injury issues for the sake of making an impact signing. Instead, he took a pay cut to stick with the team he helped win a Cup, and you can’t help but respect him for it.
You wouldn’t have blamed Gaborik for being tempted by big-money offers. At age 32, he doesn’t have a ton of time left in the league, so why not make bank while you still can? Yet, he stuck around in L.A., doing so without leaving the team pressed up against the salary cap ceiling.
The Kings already have a lot of money and years taken up by top players like Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. They also made news today when announcing they weren’t going to buyout Mike Richards, so for the moment he’s on the books until 2020. Because of this, they could ill-afford to get tied down by another huge contract that would most likely result in either an inability to sign any free agents or the need to deal a significant amount of players on the current roster.
We’ve seen it quite often in the NHL; a team wins it all, but ends up being forced to trade away key role players and fan favorites due to cap restrictions. While Gaborik’s deal doesn’t mean L.A. can go on a spending spree, it also doesn’t paint the front office into a corner.
The Kings still have some contracts to consider, such as key postseason contributors like Justin Williams and Jake Muzzin. Both enter this coming season on the final years of their contracts, and management needs to decide whether or not they need to be resigned. On top of this, Anze Kopitar only has two years left on his current deal, and he’s someone you’d like to think they don’t even want to think about losing.
With Gaborik taking a pretty significant pay cut to stay with the team, it allows the front office a better chance at keeping their core intact, a move he deserves recognition for.