Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, an impending UFA this summer, has eight points in six games since returning from hip surgery. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
How much money would you be willing to see your team give a player who scores more than a point per game?
Keep that number in your head.
Now think of how much you would pay said player if he only suited up for 52 games every season.
Is your number $7.5 million or higher?
This is the dilemma soon to be facing the Minnesota Wild in earnest. Yes, star right winger Marian Gaborik’s status as an unrestricted free agent this summer has been a season-long conundrum, but with Gabbo’s red-hot return to the Twin Cities, those horrible, horrible questions are going to heat up the backs of Wild fans’ necks until a resolution is worked out.
Since coming back to the Minnesota lineup from hip surgery six games ago, Gabbo has eight points, including a four-point outing against the Islanders. The Wild has been marginally better in that span, winning the games it should against the Isles and Oilers (twice), but falling to Calgary, Vancouver and the Rangers. Minnesota is still not a playoff team right now and with the way St. Louis is playing with just five games left in the season, likely won’t finish as one.
Had Gaborik been healthy for even half the season (he’ll play 17 games if he finishes out the string), the Wild is a playoff team. Mikko Koivu’s growth has been a boon to the franchise, but the offensive attack was otherwise depressing. That Brent Burns Revolution we heard so much about? Didn’t happen.
Now, injuries set both Koivu and Burns back a bit, but the thing with Gaborik is, there’s almost always an injury setback.
So I’m putting on my Dr. Phil mustache for this one: Minnesota, you need to get out of this relationship.
I know he’s your franchise’s all-time leading scorer, but how’s that working out for ya? Every summer brings a promise of increased vigilance to maintain the integrity of that finicky groin of his (the cause of the hip surgery this year), but more often than not, he’s back on the IR.
Sure, he has the ability to sink five goals in a game and make the fans leap out of their seats, but he has also missed an average of 30 games per season since the lockout ended. What you need, Minnesota, is stability in this household.
May I suggest those nice Sedin boys from Vancouver?
Twins Henrik and Daniel are both point-per-game players who combined have missed just one game since the lockout and are already well-versed in how to score on a team with defensive leanings. Now, the Sedins won’t come cheap and Minnesota may have to make a move or two depending on its salary cap situation, but for a team that basically gave Benoit Pouliot a roster spot because they had no one else, I think it’s worth their while.
LOOK OUT FOR…
If you’re looking for an underrated hero in Columbus, it’s got to be Raffi Torres right now. Steve Mason and Rick Nash for sure are the drivers on this bus, but down the stretch Torres has been the Daggermaster. His two goals with less than three minutes to play in a come-from-behind win against Florida March 21 were huge and guess who iced the key 2-1 win against Nashville Tuesday night? Yep, Raffi Torres. Watch for him in the playoffs.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.