Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Marian Gaborik, right wing
Last team: Los Angeles Kings
2013-14 cap hit: $7.5 million
The Kings made arguably the best move at the trade deadline this past season when they acquired an under-performing Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets for two draft picks and Matt Frattin. Gaborik, a seven-time 30-goal scorer, instantly connected with Anze Kopitar and proved he can still contribute on a regular basis after appearing to be a player on the decline. Prior to joining the Kings, injuries and lackluster play limited Gaborik to just 18 goals and 23 assists in 69 games over the past two seasons.
Los Angeles proved to be a great fit for Gaborik, who was selected with the third-overall pick by the Minnesota Wild at the 2000 NHL draft. He was an offensive force during the Kings' playoff run, which culminated with their second Stanley Cup in three years. He scored a league-high 14 goals in the postseason and finished with 22 points overall.
I do understand the appeal here. Gaborik is a sizable winger who, when healthy, can score. The Flyers, it's no secret, need help on the wing. For seasons now, they could have used the assistance of a big, scoring winger to play alongside Claude Giroux or their second-line center du jour. It's just not going to be Gaborik. For one thing, the Flyers have hardly any cap space, and would have to clear a lot in order to add Gaborik, who made $7.5 million last season alone. And let's say they're able to shed that salary -- I just don't think the priority is to spend the newly free money on a right wing with a history of injury. Hey may not stay in L.A., but I would be surprised to see Gaborik land in Philadelphia.
The thought of having Gaborik playing on one of Claude Giroux's wings should be very appealing to the Flyers. Gaborik is a pure goal scorer, plain and simple. The problem here is the Flyers would have to shed a ton of salary in order to sign Gaborik, who is coming off the final season of the five-year, $37.5 million deal he signed with the New York Rangers in 2009. Gaborik has also been injury-prone over the course of his NHL career. That could sway teams away from throwing big money at Gaborik, but after the run he put together in the playoffs there will be plenty of interest in his services. My gut tells me he stays in L.A.