Short term, the Kings losing Marian Gaborik stands to hurt Los Angeles’ chances at clinching the top spot in the Pacific Division, but there may be a long-term gain with Gaborik — and his $4.875-million salary — on the shelf.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, there’s a possibility Gaborik will be held out of action until the post-season so the Kings can add a big name at the trade deadline.
“(The Kings) are going to keep Gaborik out until the playoffs, I bet,” Friedman told Sportsnet 960 Monday. “And do what Chicago did with Patrick Kane last year. You bring him back in for the playoffs and all of a sudden there’s no cap and you add somebody like they did with Vermette and all of a sudden you’re loaded. Other teams hate that.”
It was already uncertain if Gaborik would be able to return before the end of the regular season after he went down with a knee injury, but Friedman’s report that the Kings could consider holding him out for cap flexibility could make Los Angeles an even harder team to defeat come the post-season.
As Friedman points out, it’s a similar move to that taken by the Blackhawks in 2014-15. Kane’s clavicle injury put him on the shelf for the final 21 games of the season and allowed Chicago the cap flexibility to acquire Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen. Both would play a role in the Blackhawks’ championship last season, with Vermette scoring two game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup final.
Per CapFriendly, if Gaborik were held out of the lineup until the playoffs that would give the Kings the ability to add nearly $5 million in salary. Add in the available salary with defenseman Matt Greene on long-term injured reserve, and there’s potential for Los Angeles to add somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million without having to move any of their current players out. Of course, paired with salary being shipped the other way or the potential for a trade partner to retain salary, Kings GM Dean Lombardi might be able to solidify his roster even further with the cap space created by Gaborik’s injury.
With that much money available, the Kings, who have made major additions in the past, could be set to make another splash at this season’s trade deadline. Realistically, that would open up the possibility of Los Angeles even being a destination for someone like Andrew Ladd, whose $4.4-million cap hit would fit. Lombardi hasn’t been afraid to go after the big fish at the deadline, either.
At or around the past few trade deadlines, Lombardi has acquired the likes of Gaborik, Andrej Sekera, Robyn Regehr and Jeff Carter. And with space open thanks to Gaborik’s injury, this coming deadline could see another big addition for the Kings as the post-season nears.