The latest update on Marian Gaborik‘s apparent knee injury could have a big effect on Los Angeles’ trade deadline plans.
On Monday, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter told the L.A. Times that Gaborik is going to be out of action “long term, for sure,” adding the club is hopeful the veteran winger could be back for the postseason.
Gaborik, 34, was hurt in a collision against the Rangers on Friday, exiting the game in the first period without putting any weight on what appeared to be an injured left knee. He was placed on IR shortly thereafter.
His injury comes at a really tough time. After starting the season slowly, Gaborik had been playing well of late and had four points in the five games prior to getting hurt.
All told, he has 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games this season, while averaging just under 15 minutes per night.
As mentioned above, the Kings will probably look to replace Gaborik’s production by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. He was the fifth-leading goalscorer on the team at the time of his injury and has a wealth of playoff experience — during L.A.’s Stanley Cup championship in ’14, he scored 14 times in 28 games and finished with 22 points.
In a season where nearly everything has gone right, Washington’s lone blemishes this season have been long-term injuries to Jay Beagle and Brooks Orpik.
Tonight, the Orpik blemish gets cleared up.
The veteran defenseman will return after missing the last 40 games with a lower-body injury when the Caps host the Kings at Verizon, Orpik confirmed. It’ll be the rugged defenseman’s first game since November 10, in which he exited a 1-0 loss to Detroit after just 6:49 of ice time.
In Orpik’s absence, the Caps have gone 30-6-4.
For his comeback, it looks as though Orpik will play on a pairing with Dmitry Orlov, meaning Taylor Chorney will come out of the lineup.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Orpik will have.
He was averaging 19:15 TOI through the first 14 games this season, coming off a ’14-15 campaign in which he played 21:48 per night (and that TOI average went up to 22:17 in the playoffs).
His physical, robust style has always been a favorite of head coach Barry Trotz — “the things that Brooks Orpik does, you can’t put a value on,” Trotz said when Washington signed Orpik to a $27.5 million deal two summers ago — and the return could adjust GM Brian MacLellan’s strategy at the trade deadline, though it’s likely he’d still want to add defensive depth.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will most certainly be sellers by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but with a catch.
They might not have much to sell.
“We’re not looking to tear this thing down,” president of hockey ops John Davidson said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Are you kidding? We have some pieces in place. These guys are going to play every game to win.
“That’s just in their DNA and the coaches’ DNA to win every game they play.”
(To Davidson’s point, the Jackets are 8-3-2 in their last 13, at a time where losing games — and increasing draft lottery chances — could be seen as more beneficial than winning.)
If teams are looking to pluck some players out of Columbus, they’ll likely have to settle on peripheral parts rather than core individuals.
The likes of Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin are rumored to be available — Tyutin is believed to be on Detroit’s radar — while pending UFAs Rene Bourque and Justin Falk, both essentially spare parts, could presumably be had for a song.
But Davidson shot down the notion of moving a bigger-ticket guy, saying “there’s no change in the plan.”
“We’re not giving up our future,” he explained. “No chance, unless it just makes a ton of sense.”
Things could get pretty interesting in the Columbus crease over the next few weeks.
The Jackets, having ridden the AHL tandem of Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg over the last while, activated veteran backup Curtis McElhinney on Monday and sent Forsberg down to the minors.
Tomorrow, McElhinney will dress for the first time in 17 games, and serve as Korpisalo’s backup against the Bruins. While we’re hesitant to call this situation “interesting,” it is one to watch as Korpisalo may have worked his way into a longer look at the NHL level.
The Young Finn netminder has gone 4-0-1 over his last five games and, since being thrust into the staring gig, has performed admirably well, posting a .922 save percentage on the season.
Right now it remains to be seen when No. 1 Sergei Bobrovsky will return from his recurring groin issue, so Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella could be faced with a decision — go with McElhinney, who’s got far more NHL experience and was signed to be the No. 2, or stick with Korpisalo, who’s played a prominent role in the nice little run Columbus is on right now (6-1-1 in its last eight).
Winnipeg’s disappointing season took another hit on Monday, as the Free Press reported that blueliner Mark Stuart would miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.
Stuart, 31, has three points in 55 games this season, while averaging 15:39 TOI per night. While his role isn’t huge, he is a regular lineup fixture — he, along with fellow blueliners Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba and Tobias Entstrom have all played in all 55 games this year.
In the midst of a four-year, $10.5 million deal — he has this year and two more left at $2.625 million per — Stuart is in danger of missing the remainder of the regular season, should his rehab extend to the six-week period, or beyond.