The Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday signed forward Marian Gaborik to a seven-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the average annual value is $4.875 million, according to multiple sources.
The contract brings to a close a remarkable stretch in Gaborik's career that began when he was acquired by the Kings from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for forward Matt Frattin and two draft picks. Coming off his second deadline-day trade in the past year, Gaborik found his stride in Los Angeles, scoring a League-high 14 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and leading the Kings to their second Stanley Cup championship in the past three seasons.
"It's been pretty crazy, a pretty hectic time. Obviously I enjoyed it and I'm still enjoying it," Gaborik said during a conference call. "Hopefully I'm going to enjoy it down the road as well. To be a part of this, I'm very happy about it. Hopefully we can just keep this train rolling."
After he hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time on June 13, Gaborik made it a priority to return to Los Angeles. Had he waited until July 1 to become an unrestricted free agent, he would have been one of the marquee players available this summer. But rather than test the market, he made known his desire to remain with the Kings, even if it meant leaving a considerable amount of money on the table.
"All along I wanted to stay here. The organization knew it, the players knew it, everybody knew it, my agent knew it. That was my No. 1 priority, to try to get the deal done here," Gaborik said. "I know I could get maybe more money if I went to UFA, but it wasn't about money. I wanted to stay here and be a part of a great team."
Gaborik scored 40 goals three times in five seasons split between the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers, but injuries and inconsistency led to him being traded to the Blue Jackets at the 2013 trade deadline. Those same problems plagued him in Columbus, where he scored nine goals and 22 points in 34 games before being traded again on March 5 to Los Angeles.
He appeared rejuvenated with the Kings, scoring five goals and finishing with 16 points in 19 regular-season games before embarking on the playoff scoring tear that ended with a Stanley Cup championship. Gaborik spent much of that time playing on L.A.'s top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and he's looking forward to continuing that success for years to come.
"The first day I got here, the guys welcomed me very warmly. Right away I felt comfortable. That's very important," Gaborik said. "Playing [alongside] one of the top centers in the League, just the way we clicked pretty quickly was great. I'm very happy about that and looking forward to more wins."
After being traded twice in a year, Gaborik admitted that the long-term security this contract now provides is important. He had originally been looking for at least six years in his next contract and was pleased the two parties could agree on seven. He's now been afforded the kind of security that proved elusive in the past year, but Gaborik acknowledges his new contract, which does not include a no-trade clause, provides only so many guarantees.
"You can sign for 10 years or however long and you still can get traded. I was signed for five years, I got traded and then I got traded again. Any player can get traded," Gaborik said. "Of course, to be signed for this long gives you some sort of comfort and security, but at the same time you never know what can happen. Hopefully we can keep going, and hopefully I'll stay healthy and contribute and play well. That's the bottom line."
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