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Kings GM: Gaborik is as ‘smart defensively as he is offensively’


No doubt about it, Marian Gaborik has been a huge addition to the Los Angeles Kings, but most people (understandably) focus on his impressive offensive contributions.

LA Kings Insider goes in-depth with GM Dean Lombardi to look back at the team’s quest to boost its offense (“without selling your soul” by hurting their elite defense) and how seamlessly Gaborik is fitting in.

Lombardi cited Gaborik’s early development with Jacques Lemaire as a member of the Minnesota Wild organization to share a startling observation: the outstanding sniper is excellent defensively, too.

“He’s as smart defensively as he is offensively, and he had been trained that way, and he had also been trained that defense was a priority to the point where maybe there was that criticism out there to turn him loose,” Lombardi said.

“Traditionally, the European player has been a 200-foot player when you look at the Larionovs and the Fedorovs and the Hossas of the world. He had been schooled, and he would fall into that category even before he got to Minnesota.”

It’s not that surprising to note that Gaborik, 32, tops all playoff goal scorers with 12 so far (Jeff Carter and Jonathan Toews are tied for second with nine), although it’s worth noting that the talented winger has been getting some bounces. His 18.5 shooting percentage is considerably higher than his 10.7 percentage from the regular season and 12.9 career mark.

From the sound of things, the Kings would be accept a slower scoring pace from Gaborik if he continues to be responsible in his own zone, too. Even if plenty of people think of him as a one-dimensional player.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.