The Detroit Red Wings entered the 2014 offseason with two signing priorities: a goal-scoring winger, and a top-pair defenceman. The Wings can pursue right-handed defenceman Dan Boyle, who rejected offers from the New York Islanders, and it is rumored on Twitter that the team is also interested in winger Evander Kane from Winnipeg.
The best free agent on the market is arguably Marian Gaborik, a 32-year-old winger that was traded to the Los Angeles Kings at this year’s trade deadline. In 810 career games, Gaborik has 347 goals and 704 points. He has just finished a successful run in LA, with 14 goals and 22 points in 26 playoff games, and won a Stanley Cup. Gaborik’s free-agent status has flown under the radar because it is expected that he re-signs with the Stanley Cup team he found his scoring groove with, but some decisions by the management of the Kings may lead him to signing with a new team.
According to CBS Sports, the LA Kings have offered a 3-year deal to Marian Gaborik worth $5 million/year. The Slovakian forward is at the end of his 5-year, $7.5 million/year contract, signed in Columbus for the Blue Jackets, and will be taking a sizable hit if he re-signs in LA. The Kings have around $13 million in cap space for next season, and because the team chose to not buy out the contract of Mike Richards ($5.75 million cap hit), the team may not be able to increase the value of its offer. If the offer value is accepted or increased, it could be at the expense of defencemen Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, the team’s other UFAs in need of extensions.
IF Marian Gaborik wants more than $5 million a year, he certainly will get it. Many teams would be willing to meet his contract demands, and the Detroit Red Wings should be one of them.
The Red Wings might not be able to acquire the top-pair defenceman they desire in free agency this summer, and with a solid group of d-men in Grand Rapids (their AHL affiliate), the team should go all in and take chance for Gaborik. The Wings could use a goal-scoring winger to bolster their offense. Daniel Alfredsson is in his early 40s, and led the team in scoring with only 49 points. Alfredsson may retire this year, and if he chooses to continue in the NHL, his production will only decline, along with his health, which limited him to 70 games this season. Detroit cannot rely on Alfredsson to be its leading scorer, and could use a consistent scorer in Gaborik.
Detroit has almost $19 million in cap space this offseason. After signing Jonas Gustavsson, Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar, and Riley Sheahan to their respective extensions, the Wings could afford a $7 million cap hit for Gaborik. This could only happen if Alfredsson and a defenceman are not signed, however. A Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Gaborik line would be absolutely lethal.
Detroit needs defense first, but if their defensive wishes cannot be fulfilled in free agency this offseason, the Red Wings should be first in line to sign Marian Gaborik.