Gaborik trade paid off handsomely for Kings

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It seems like the team that makes the biggest splash during the trade deadline usually isn’t the one that ends up winning the Stanley Cup, but deadline day acquisitions can still be critical. After all, would the Kings have won it all this year if they didn’t acquire Marian Gaborik?

Los Angeles averaged 2.42 goals per game in the regular season and 3.38 in the playoffs with Gaborik being a big part of that transformation. He scored a league-leading 14 goals and 22 points in the postseason and contributed to Anze Kopitar’s equally impressive showing.

His presence also gave the Kings the flexibility to split up Jeff Carter and Kopitar. That move gave them two dangerous lines as Carter scored 10 goals and 25 points in the playoffs.

What makes that trade truly special though is that the Kings didn’t mortgage their future to make it as they gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a pair of second rounders and 26-year-old forward Matt Frattin.

The Kings have made some other solid acquisitions over the years, with forwards Carter and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams being the most noteworthy additions, but Kings GM Dean Lombardi knows those kind of moves alone couldn’t hope to keep this team on top.

“The ability of this team to continue to grow isn’t going to from acquisitions. It’s going to be on the inside,” Lombardi told LA Kings Insider. “People overlook, I think a lot, how young Doughty was last time, Kopitar, Brown was still growing. Carter was just entering his prime. Jake Muzzin, Martinez, Clifford, Nolan, King – all these kids, you look at the age distribution chart on ‘em, there was tremendous upside here. Now, the trick for them and the coaches was to not let ‘em get complacent and keep pushing them to reach their potential.”

Bench boss Darryl Sutter has done a fine job of that so far, but every now and then he can certainly use a boost. Because sometimes trade deadline acquisitions do pay off.