Gaborik is going to walk next summer.

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There has been a lot of talk about the Wild wanting to trade Gaborik once he becomes healthy, but I am one who believes that this day won’t come anytime soon, and that the chance of him walking by the end of this season is very high.

Rumor sites like Eklund’s have been mentioning about Gaborik’s imminent trade, (he actually ranked him the highest of his list). However, I tend to agree with reports coming out of Minnesota, that despite the recent success of the Wild team without their star winger and GM Doug Risebrough’s wish to trade him as early as possible, there aren’t a lot of teams interested.

Of course, not that any NHL teams won’t want a dynamic player like Gaborik in their line-up, but mainly turned off by three main reasons:

(1) $$$
Gaborik carries with him a hefty price-tag. Marian is currently making 6.3-million per season, according to NHL Numbers. But offers from Risebrough worth 9 to 10-million per season were turned down, so it may indicate that he wants more money. For any team to trade for an UFA by the end of the season so early on, a main criteria is the likelihood of re-signing the player. But at a price of 9 to 10M, would any team seriously be interested in an injury-prone player like Gaborik?

If you ask me, I don’t believe Gaborik is asking for more. I don’t believe that he thinks he’s worth more than 10-million per season. The main reason why he doesn’t sign back is possibily his wish for playing elsewhere. Gaborik has, in the past, mentioned about his dislikes of Lemaire’s trap-style hockey. So, it’s still possible that Gaborik will sign with some other team at a much lower amount, but at this moment, not a lot of teams have the kind of cap-space we are talking about.

(2) Injury
Ever since the 02-03 season, Gaborik has never played a complete season, and in the 06-07 season, he only managed to play 48 out of 82 games. In both 03-04 and 05-06, he only played 65 games each season. He’s injury-prone, but last season he did manage to put 77 games under his belt. If he’s able to play healthy this season, maybe he could have silenced his critics, but so far this season, he only played 2 games.

Yet, despite of his health problems, he’s still one of the best scorer you can find. In his fewest-games-played season of 06-07, he was able to notch 30 goals and 27 assists in 48 games. He scored 38 goals and 28 assist in 65 games for 05-06, and last year he broke a personal and club-record with 42 goals and 41 assists in 77 games. Even with only two games played this season, he’s got 1 goal. Not to mentioned the fact that he did all this under Lemaire’s defense-first-trap system!!!

So yeah, most GM will be willing to part 8 to 9-million for such a player, assuming that IF he can stay health, and IF he’s placed in another system, he can easily get 50 or 60 goals per season. But these are two very big IFs.

(3) Contract
This is perhaps the most important factor. His contract ends by the end of this season and with him turning down the big offer from the club, he must be moved soon. But the league doesn’t allow trading injured players, plus who would want to sit out a 7-million UFA player never knowing when or if he can play this season at all??!! So Risebrough can’t trade him now, but what if he stays injured up until the trading-deadline?

I mean I know there aren’t a lot of interest for him based on the above two reasons right now, but if Risebrough can trade him before the deadline, he can still get something in return. If the offer isn’t too demanding, teams like Vancouver or Los Angeles are surely able to give something in return.

At this moment, no serious discussion can be made between the Wild and any other team, without knowing when Gaborik will return. But of course, the longer he stays injured, the higher the doubts of his complete recovery, and the lower his stock prices. The longer he stays injured, the shorted amount of time Risebrough can have serious negotiation with another team, the least the Wild can get in return.

But even if he returns to the line-up soon, not a lot of GMs are willing to trade away their team’s asset for a 7-million dollar injury-prone UFA when they know they can sign him for free by the end of the season.

So, it may appear that there’s still plenty of time before the trading deadline, but if things don’t go right, Gaborik is going to walk next summer.

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