Monday, October 20, 2008

Gaborik to Boston -- In Three Easy (And Highly Unlikely) Steps!

Since this rumor won't go away, let's address it head-on.

DISCLAIMER: I think it's quite farfetched that the Bruins would pursue Gaborik at this time. Hopefully they have learned from the cautionary tales of teams which threw the proverbial kitchen sink at a handful of individuals rather than building a deep, well-rounded team. Furthermore, it seems to me that the B's are at least 1-2 full seasons away from making a major free-agent acquisition toward a Cup run, and by that time they will probably have developed at least a couple of reliable 40-goal scorers from within. But for now I will accept the hypothesis that Pete Chiarelli considers Gaborik the next step toward Stanley Cup glory.

Step #1: Trade or waive Manny Fernandez

This is the toughest part of the equation, because there is no "ideal" option for making it happen. Fernandez carries very little trade value due to his injury history and less-than-insipring comeback effort so far this season. The Bruins would be well-served to wait until he strings together a few decent games and shop him for some kind of return in futures -- either a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick or a prospect from some desperate team. But that risks the possibility that he could be re-injured or simply melt down before the trigger is pulled... or that nobody would take the bait, in which case the only option would be the waiver wire. I believe that if Fernandez were waived he would be snatched up by the Avs, who have the cap space and the need for a decent puckstopper. In this case the Bruins would lose a $4.3 million, former #1 goaltender and get nothing in return.

Step #2: Offer either Phil Kessel or Blake Wheeler for Gaborik

Another tough decision, as Kessel and Wheeler are both excellent long-term projects for the Bruins and appear to be making large strides this season. But these are the only two players on the roster who would be suitable returns for Gaborik, carry a large enough salary ($2m+) to clear significant cap room, AND would not be considered a crippling loss to the Bruins franchise.

Step #3: Negotiate a $7m-ish/year contract

This is the biggest risk of all for Boston. The truth is that Gaborik is worth between 7 and 8 million on the open market, yet he has reportedly turned down a long-term offer from the Wild in the range of $10m/year. Conventional wisdom says that he's stonewalling the Wild regardless of their offer sheets and will take less money to play elsewhere. But as Pittsburgh found out this summer, conventional wisdom is often misguided. It's entirely possible that Gaborik, upon being traded to the Bruins, would stonewall Chiarelli as well and simply leave town as a free agent. In that case the Bruins would have traded a quasi-#1 goaltender and a future star forward for half a season of Gaborik. Bottom line: Gaborik MUST be receptive to a $7-8 million multi-year contract with Boston before any move is made.

Of course, this would have a massive long-term impact on the Bruins roster and cap situation. Gaborik and Chara would combine for a cap impact of $15m/year, and the Bruins would be squeezed against the ceiling for the forseeable future. Not to mention that if Gaborik is injured, underperforms or simply leaves town the Bruins will have lost significant futures in either Kessel or Wheeler.

The upside, of course, would be the addition of the first 50-goal threat since Cam Neely. It's much more difficult to win a Cup without at least one top-level scoring threat, so the addition of Gaborik would at least superficially signal a serious commitment to building a top-quality team.

Overall quality of this trade for the Bruins: 7 on a scale of 10
Likelihood of it actually happening: 4 on a scale of 10

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Anonymous said...

A) Gaborik won't sign for less than $8 million per season.
B) Why would trade one of two potential 50 goal scorers for a guy who basically averages a point per game, has never played a full 82 games, averages about 69 games per season and is constantly plagued by injury?

Stick with Kessel and Wheeler over a move for Gaborik. They're both young, extremely good bargains, and are oozing with superstar potential. It's only a matter of time before they're both premiere players. The Bruins shouldn't compromise the future of their franchise to bring an oft-injured star player into their lineup that can't contribute every game.

andrewrice said...

I completely agree with that comment. Trading Kess or Wheeler for Gaborik is a terrible idea.

I wouldnt even bother talking about getting rid of fernandez either, because like you said no one wants him, and even if someone did, we would get nothing in return. I say everyone stop bitchin about him and just sit back and hope he can put up a few wins in the few games hell start this year. then after this season hell be gone