Marian Gaborik has maintained a trend of one good season followed by an off campaign since 2002-03. The Blue Jackets have to hope that continues after he scored just 12 goals and 27 points in 2013.
He’s one of the team’s bigger X-factors going into the season, but there are reasons to believe he will pay off for them beyond just a basic pattern. For one thing, Gaborik is a 31-year-old that’s fighting for what could be his last massive payday.
He has one season left on his five-year, $37.5 million deal and the Blue Jackets aren’t in a hurry to re-sign him. Although his potential alone will attract suitors to him regardless of what he does this season, a bounce back campaign might be the difference between a deal that carries him to his potential retirement and a one-year agreement so that he can get another chance to prove he’s worth the star-level contract that he likely wants.
The change of scenery should also help Gaborik, given the up-and-down relationship he seemed to have with former New York Rangers coach John Tortorella. Although Tortorella argued that the two had a “great relationship” and his firing meant that Gaborik would have ended up with a new bench boss either way, he did improve after being dealt to the Blue Jackets.
Gaborik had three goals, eight points, and a plus-five rating in 12 games with Columbus.
“What I found with him was because of his speed and his danger in the offensive zone, opponents cheat a little more toward him or they cheat a little bit back into their own zone,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told NHL.com. “That creates more space for us, so we can play a better offensive game.”
His skill set will lead to him getting plenty of playing time with the Blue Jackets and if he performs as he has at his best, then he should be the team’s scoring leader.