Before I begin there have been comments on this article below accusing me of just pulling stuff of thin air. This is simply not true, there have been TRUE and REAL reports of Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Washington inquiring and talks of actually trading Gaborik. The following is why of those three teams and what I have heard from Minnesota that Buffalo has a very good chance of acquiring Gaborik. All of this has come from reliable sources that I frequently check with.
There now I cleared that up onto the article:
Will the Faster Player in the NHL be traded to one of fastest teams in the league?
There's a very good chance it's going to happen soon.
If Minnesota does not succeed in convincing Gaborik to sign on long-term, look for him to be moved this year, before he can walk as UFA and the Wild get zilch for him.
Buffalo is also looking to move an important piece before he becomes a UFA—Maxim Afinogenov. Buffalo could put an interesting package of Afinogenov, Kotalik, or even Connolly if they want to move players in their contract years.
Buffalo seems to be the team with the best chance to acquire Gaborik and give him the money he wants. The two other teams that are known to inquire about acquiring Gaborik are the Penguins and Capitals. They are both going to be very close to the cap this year, and will need to trade some significant salaries to sign Gaborik to a deal that he will want.
Gaborik will make $6.33 million this year. At only 26 and one of the top players in the league, he is going to demand a lot of money.
For this reason, there is no way Pittsburgh will pay him what he wants, plus Malkin and Crosby at $8.7 million, Whitney at $4 million, Orpik at $3.75 million and Fleury at $5 million.
Starting next year, they will pay those five guys about $30 million combined. Say the salary cap goes to $60 million next year—the Penguins will not invest over $37 million for just six guys and then try to fill out the rest of their roster on $23 million.
The Washington Capitals will also have a very tough time signing Gaborik to the extension that he will want from them. They will have no more than $10 million in cap room next year—and that is with them losing five guys.
Unless they expect to replace those five by replacing them with cheap free agents or minor league players the Caps will have a lot less space than that. But they are very close to being an elite team and will not want to sacrifice a quarter of their roster for one player.
The Sabres, on the other hand, have plenty of cap space. They currently have nine million dollars free as of today which is a good chunk of change. They can easily sign Gaborik to a long-term deal for whatever he wants—especially if they trade Max plus either Kotalik or Connolly, which would free up an extra $5.23-6.23 million.
Gaborik's salary for this year will be almost the same as what will be paid to those two combined. Gaborik will not get anything more than ten million—nor will anyone in the league for awhile now.
So, say for whatever reason Darcy goes insane(which he might have had already) and gives him a nine million dollar-per-year contract starting next year, and they trade Connolly and Afinogenov. Assuming Kotalik and Peters and Spacek walk, the Sabres will only have $12.06 million in cap space to sign three guys if they want to. And that's if they keep the salary cap at the same.
Could you imagine a line of Vanek-Roy-Gaborik next year? That is one scary line. Vanek had 64 points, Roy had 81, and Gaborik had 83. And that could quite possibly be one of the fastest lines in the NHL ever.
Buffalo seems to have the right guys to pull it off, and there is a very real possibility that in this upcoming 2008-2009 NHL season, Gaborik could be playing for the blue and gold.