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When the Los Angeles Kings acquired winger Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, they were hoping to bolster the thin left-wing position while adding some scoring power on that side of the ice. I was way off when I wrote this article.

marian gaborik kingsKings general manager Dean Lombardi said he and Blue Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen began trade talks on New Year’s Day and played out the process from there.

It is super Lombardi has so much confidence in Gaborik but the last two seasons he’s spent more time in physical therapy than he has lacing up his skates. He has had little ice time since injuring his knee against the Boston Bruins, November 14th – and the first game he returned, against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 21st when he broke his collarbone. This could be a move just for this postseason, as Gaborik is in a contract year, so perhaps health longevity isn’t as important as I think.

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Stats via ESPN

Gaborik (6g, 8a, 14p, 22gp as a Blue Jacket this season) played predominately as right-winger in Columbus but will need to provide a majority of his ice time at left-wing to truly help the Kings fulfill their playoff ambitions. Gaborik said he’s comfortable on the left – but until he skates that side for considerable ice time, and has success, I’ll be skeptical.

Gaborik (2g, 2a, 4pt, 8gp) is hitting his career ice time average with the Kings and has been efficient on offense. He scored the decisive shootout goal, against the Washington Capitals, that clinched the 500th victory for Darryl Sutter and the 171st win for Jonathan Quick as Kings’ net-minder.

Even with that, I’m still on the fence about Gaborik. Lombardi has earned fan confidence, so the faithful shouldn’t abandon him now at this crucial point in the season. Gaborik’s production is going to be critical from here on out. He showed himself clutch against the Capitals but there is a lot of crucial hockey to be played.

Recently, I wrote that the Kings are locked into the NHL‘s Pacific Division bracket as the 3rd seed. However, both the Kings (86pts) and Coyotes (79pts) are 7-3 in their last 10 games and the Phoenix Coyotes are only seven points back. There can’t be a drop off or the Kings risk being the 8th seed which will place them in the #1 seed’s bracket regardless of the new division format.

Gaborik’s continued assimilation into the game plan, and within the team chemistry dynamic, will be critical if the Kings want to stay in the strongest possible position they can achieve heading into the third act of the season.

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