Originally written April 09, 2013 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Throughout the course of his career as a Ranger, I was always pretty supportive of Marian Gaborik. While I understand some fans appreciate powerforwards more so than pure snipers, I try not to weigh one skill set vs. the other. At the end of the day, teams need skill and will players to create offensive balance. Indeed, Gaborik wasn’t one who created offense by lugging the puck through 3 zones, putting moves on 3-4 players and then finish by dekeing out the goalie. He was simply a snipeshow whose strengths were his shot release and his foot speed. For me, the questions with Gaborik were never really about fitting our aggressive forechecking system or staying healthy, but rather about finding consistency and elevating his game. After almost four seasons as a New York Ranger, the answers to those questions are still a bit of a mystery to me. For starters, I don’t blame Tortorella at all. I know that last sentence alone will bring out the small contingent of fans that want to axe John, but this season’s stats don’t lie.  Torts started Gaborik in the offensive zone on 67% of his shifts (after a whistle). No other Ranger, not even Nash had that high of an OZONE start % (based on offensive vs. defensive zone faceoffs). Tortorella was also able to deploy Gaborik against weaker puck possession players, as his Corsi Rel QoC was -0.245. The fact that Torts was able to get favorable match-ups for Gaborik without sacrificing his icetime (3rd among forwards in time-on-ice per 60 mins) is a credit to this coaching staff. So when I look at how he was used and the opportunities afforded to him, it makes sense why Glen would trade Gaborik rather than fire Tortorella. Ultimately, John put him in a position to succeed. From there, it was up to Gaborik to produce. This year, for whatever reason, he just couldn’t get it done. If that had continued in the playoffs, we would have been toast in the first round. With these new cats onboard, who so far seem willing to forecheck and take a hit to make a play, the future looks a little brighter. To be fair, Gaborik will likely succeed in Columbus too. There will be less pressure playing in a smaller market and he’ll be reunited with former Rangers (i.e., Dubi, Arty, Vinny, the list goes on). If CLB eventually makes the playoffs, I know I’ll be watching Gaborik closely. In his last 31 playoff games, Gaborik scored just 6 goals and 8 assists. That point total leaves a lot to be desired for someone making $7.5m. After four seasons on Broadway, I’d grade Gaborik with a B or B+. He came to NYC as a likable goal scorer, who lacked consistency due to health or motivation problems. He left town a slightly better version of that description. Tweet
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