Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forget Marion, Get Marian

Now that the Flames are out of the playoffs I can start enjoying hockey again. All that I need now is a sweep by the by the Wings and Blackhawks. The last season for the Oilers was a bust. But I'm not going to comment on that any more at this time. Instead I'll focus on the team going forward. Last night Lowetide posted his Oilers offseason plan and he brought up a move that I completely agree with.

The move? Target Marian Gaborik.

Fortunately last summers bold move to overpay Marion Hossa into playing here didnt work. Hossa is an amazing player but 9 years and 81 million for a player who would be 39 by the end of the contract would not have covered the bet. Instead of trying the same move, I think Marian Gaborik is the guy I'd go after this year. He should be cheaper and given his injury history, the term would be much shorter. Gaborik is an excellent player but his knock as been that he has been injury prone.

Here are Gaboriks stats since the lockout:

On a PPG basis, Gaborik is an elite performer. Being a PPG player on Minnesota is harder to do than most teams especially playing in one of the more defensive NW divisions. Gaborik hasnt played a full-season since the lockout - last season being his worst. Make no mistake, however, Marian Gaborik is one biggest impact players in the game.

2006-2007 - The Wild got off to a 10-1 start with Gaborik healthy and playing. After that, Gaborik went down with a groin injury and started to slide. Gaborik missed 34 games and the Wild went 15-17-2. Overall with Gaborik in the lineup the Wild went 33-9-6.

2007-2008 - Gaborik played in 77 games - and the Wild won the division.

2008-2009 - Gaborik plays 17 games and the Wild miss the playoffs despite a late season push with Gaborik in the lineup. As of Feb 25, 2009 - over the past 27 games in which Gaborik has scored a goal, the Wild were 23-0-4 (dating back to the previous season).

Kevin Lowe has been targeting a star player since Chris Pronger left town. I think its the right approach to build from the top down but to Lowe's defense, its not easy getting stars to play in Edmonton. The odds of Gaborik actually signing here are slim. Nevertheless, Gaborik is the kind of impact player that with a couple healthy seasons could help the Oilers gain traction. Confidence is contageous and players like Hemsky, Gagner and Cogliano would IMO thrive off Gaboriks influence and the impact would be residual.

Steve Tambellini has a list of items to address this season such as goaltending, team competiveness and toughness. But they've been looking for a winger to play with Hemsky for 3 years. Despite Gaboriks injury history, I think he is best case scenario.
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