The Los Angeles Kings, who are clinging to the third playoff spot in the Western Conference Pacific Division, made a splashy move Wednesday by acquiring three-time All-Star forward Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
Per Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets will receive two draft picks and forward Matt Frattin in return:
The deal was confirmed in the King's trade tracker.
The Kings have struggled offensively this season, sitting 11th in the Western Conference in scoring, but Gaborik is a player who can help immensely when healthy.
Health has been a problem for Gaborik this season, however. He has played in just 22 games due to a broken collarbone, but he has been fairly productive when on the ice.
Gaborik has 14 points this season, and he put up eight points in 12 games last season after joining Columbus from the New York Rangers. He wasn't a great fit for the Blue Jackets' defensive style, though, so a change of scenery makes sense.
After six weeks on the shelf, Gaborik recently returned to Columbus' lineup, and while he had to get back into the swing of things, he was encouraged by the way he played against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 27, per Portzline.
"My timing was a little off," Gaborik said. "My hands...it takes a little time. By the second period, I started to feel a little more comfortable, like I was in the game. It's only going to get better."
The Kings certainly hope that Gaborik's words prove prophetic because he could help the cause in a major way. The 32-year-old Slovak has scored 30 or more goals in a season on seven occasions, and he has the potential to break out in a big way down the stretch.
Gaborik is set to become a free agent this coming offseason, so even though the Blue Jackets currently hold one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference, they felt like they had to get value for him.
Also, according to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, trading Gaborik may be the precursor to another deal for Columbus:
The 26-year-old Frattin hasn't been particularly productive for the Kings this season with six points in 40 games, but he was once a highly touted prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Blue Jackets are hoping to get something out of him.
Make no mistake that this trade hinges largely on what Gaborik does with the Kings, however.
Los Angeles has a lot of talent up front in the form of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and others, so Gaborik will have the support necessary to thrive with the Kings.
It is a fairly low-risk investment from Los Angeles' point of view, but Columbus should be applauded for getting a roster player and two picks for a guy who could have walked for nothing at the end of the year.
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