Fanspeak: Gaborik voted greatest player in Wild franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Minnesota Wild

1. Marian Gaborik (371)

2. Mikko Koivu (229)

3. Zach Parise (176)

4. Wes Walz (62)

5. Andrew Brunette (53)

6. Niklas Backstrom (31)

He’s the greatest goalscorer in Minnesota Wild history, and now he tops this list.

Marian Gaborik — drafted third overall in 2000 by the Wild — spent his first eight NHL seasons in Minnesota and produced some of the greatest highs in the club’s infancy. In 2002-03, the 20-year-old Slovak led the team to its first-ever playoff appearance on the strength of a 30-goal campaign, then put forth a remarkable postseason in which he scored 17 points in 18 games, leading the Wild all the way to the Western Conference Final.

(That spring, Gaborik finished one point shy of the playoff scoring lead — shared by New Jersey’s Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Niedermayer — even though the Devils’ duo played in six more games.)

In 2007-08, Gaborik recorded the greatest offensive campaign in franchise history: 42 goals and 83 points, finishing seventh in the Rocket Richard race and 11th in Hart Trophy voting.

Gaborik was an original Wild that made his rookie debut (at 18) during the team’s inaugural campaign, but his time in Minnesota wasn’t entirely rosy. He missed the first month of the 2003-04 campaign to a contract holdout and spent much of his last season injured, appearing in just 17 games. It’s possibly why voting was so split.