Marian Gaborik is the new face of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This development was the NHL’s deadline day blockbuster. The new John Davidson/Jarmo Kekalainen management team rescued the well-traveled, oft-injured winger from the wrath of New York Rangers coach John Tortorella.
“When a player of his became available, we were quite excited about it,” Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch. “This is an explosive player. We worked on it for quite a while. We’re looking at this as a long-term solution, not a rental. He’s under contract through next season, and we would like to see the relationship continue beyond that.”
Gaborik, who comes with a stiff $7.5 million salary, welcomed the change of scenery.
“I feel good,” Gaborik told the Dispatch. “It’s hard. Everybody goes through some bumps and bruises, but I feel fine. My shoulder is fine. I feel confident going to Columbus and helping that team make the playoffs.
“It’s nice to be part of a team that really wanted me. The team has shown they’re going in the right direction. We haven’t been performing the way we should (for the Rangers), myself included. It wasn’t the way anybody expected. I haven’t been having fun this year; I don’t think the whole team has at all. I’m looking forward to this challenge.”
The Blue Jackets appeared headed toward a draft-drive overhaul, the sort of full-scale youth movement Davidson and Kekalainen executed in St. Louis. But they decided the opportunity to add a proven goal-scorer with the team in playoff contention was too great to pass on.
In the process, the team ditched center Derick Brassard – the would-be franchise cornerstone who never developed into a true top-line producer. Defenseman John Moore and rugged forward Derek Dorsett (currently injured) also departed in the deal.
Notably, the team did not sacrifice a first-round pick to make this move. The Blue Jackets did some other housecleaning, trading back-up goaltender Steve Mason to the Philadelphia Flyers for goaltender Michael Leighton and a third-round pick in 2015. The team spent a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft to Calgary to add Blake Comeau to the front-line mix.