Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had two concerns going into Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. First, he knew he wanted to find a player to bolster the goal-starved team. Second, he had to do it within the constraints of the salary cap.
Lombardi targeted veteran Marian Gaborik quite some time ago, but with a hefty salary of $7.5 million for 2013-14, it figured to take a little extra work to make the deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets work to the Kings’ advantage.
In the end, the solution was to ask the Blue Jackets to agree to pay 50 percent of Gaborik’s salary, pro-rated for the final one-quarter of the season. The Kings also sent forward Matt Frattin, a second-round pick either this year or next and a conditional third-round pick to Columbus.
The Kings also had to re-assign forward Linden Vey to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League to clear salary-cap space before acquiring Gaborik. Vey recorded five points, all assists, in 18 games with the Kings. He spent most of the season in the minors.
In return, the Kings acquired a crafty 32-year-old with 688 points, including 342 goals, in 791 games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. He is a former 42-goal scorer with the Rangers in 2009-10 and the Wild in 2007-08.
The Kings also gained a player who has been sidelined for all but 22 games this season because of a collarbone injury. He is expected to join the team for tonight’s game against the Jets in Winnipeg, the start of the a three-game trip.
“I inquired right after New Year’s,” Lombardi said during a conference call with reporters when asked about starting talks with the Blue Jackets for Gaborik. “That’s kind of when we started the process. It picked up about two weeks ago. It goes to 11 (Tuesday) night, then picks up again at 5.”
Lombardi said he believed Gaborik is the right man to aid the Kings’ offense.
“He brings an element we thought we’d like to add to the mix,” Lombardi said when asked why he targeted Gaborik. “There are very few players capable of doing what he does. We thought he was the only guy available who had those dimensions.”