The Los Angeles Kings clearly had a good thing going by the end of the season, which saw them hoist the Stanley Cup again. So you can understand why they would be keen on keeping Marian Gaborik around.
Acquired at the deadline from Columbus when his value was down, Gaborik played well for the Kings down the stretch and then started doing what he does best in the playoffs: score goals. He finished the postseason with 14 goals, by far the most in the playoffs to put his name in the company of Wayne Gretzky.
But there was always the potential when the Kings got Gaborik that he would be a rental-type, a player they might not be able to afford to re-sign in terms of the salary cap. According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, though, they're going to give it a go.
The Kings aren't trading Mike Richards or buying him out. That's the plan. But they aren't happy paying a third- or fourth-liner first-line money and they've told him that. Los Angeles wants to keep leading playoff goal scorer Marian Gaborik -- they've offered three years and $15 million, which would require a hometown discount of sorts. To keep Gaborik and Richards, it means sacrificing a veteran free agent defenceman like Willie Mitchell or Matt Greene.
Indeed, that would be quite the discount. Gaborik just finished a five-year contract that had a cap hit of $7.5 million. While he's 32 now and it is fair to think his cost should go down as he exits his prime, it's tough to believe Gaborik wouldn't be able to get much more on the free-agent market. Still, the chance to stay with a Stanley Cup team could be intriguing enough to consider a bit of a discount, it will depend on what Gaborik wants most.
The pictures don't lie though, Gaborik certainly seemed to enjoy his few months in the sun of LA. Wouldn't you?
Something to keep in mind, though; the Kings probably can afford to go a little higher on a potential contract with Gaborik, they just (rightly) want to keep it down as much as they can. But they already have 18 players signed for next season and roughtly $13 million left below the cap according to Cap Geek.
Keeping Gaborik would probably lead to saying goodbye to either Willie Mitchell or Matt Greene -- both are also free agents. Each obviously played big parts in both of LA's recent Cups but they have five other Dmen under contract already and could fill the sixth/seventh spots on D for a cheaper price, possibly from within.
In other words if they want Gaborik, they should be able to keep Gaborik. It might take a little more money and term but the Kings should be able to do it. Considering what he gave them after the trade, you'd think they'd really want to keep him, too.