NHL rumors: Is Rangers winger Marian Gaborik available?

Gaborik has seven goals, seven assists on the season. (Getty Images)
Gaborik has seven goals, seven assists this season. (Getty Images)

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We are now less than four weeks away from the NHL's April 3 trade deadline, so the speculation is starting to fall faster than the snow in the East.

Of the plethora of rumors, the most interesting under-the-radar name floating around is none other than Marian Gaborik in New York. That's right, the Rangers winger is being mentioned as a possible -- I stress the word possible -- trade target.

Why would the Rangers, who have been struggling to score, look to trade a top goal scorer such as Gaborik? The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported over the weekend that the Rangers have discussed shopping him out there to see what they could get.

To second that, here's the gist of the thinking from Elliotte Friedman of the CBC.

The Rangers do the Rick Nash trade 100 times out of 100, but that deal and other losses (Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko) robbed them of depth. The reason Gaborik might (and that's the key word: might) be available is the return could replace that depth. But the only way New York does anything with him is if the move really improves the team.

In other words, don't get your hopes too high that your team might be able to get Gaborik (if that possibility would excite you, that is). While he seems a little more available than "we'll listen to offers for any player" it doesn't sound like the Rangers are actively looking to trade him. He could be used to reel in a bounty that the Rangers need, probably nothing more.

So why Gaborik and not, say, Brad Richards? After all, Richards is the one who has had his name mentioned in the "amnesty" conversation. It probably comes down to movability. Of the Rangers' three high-priced forwards, Gaborik is the one with the most appealing contract by far. Richards carries a cap hit of $6.67 million per season through 2020, and Rick Nash has a $7.8 million cap hit until 2018-19. Gaborik has one season after this on his deal that carries a $7.5 million hit.

It's no secret that the Rangers have struggled this season. They came into the year as a Stanley Cup favorite in the eyes of many (me included) but are fighting just to keep a playoff spot. At the moment, they reside eighth in the East while playing seven more games on home ice than on the road. That's the biggest reason why the Rangers would consider any shakeups.

Looking back at that Nash trade in hindsight, it is kind of interesting to think of how everybody was saying it was an absolute steal for the Rangers. While perhaps they didn't give up a ton of individual difference-makers to get him, they're feeling the difference that has been made by the lack of depth on the roster.

The most interesting part about watching the Rangers at the trade deadline is how desperate they might get if they don't get into a more secure spot.

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