Marian Gaborik's Surgery Guarantees New York Rangers Will Acquire Rick Nash

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IJune 1, 2012

COLUMBUS,OH - DECEMBER 11:  Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers stops a shot from Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period on December 11, 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
John Grieshop/Getty Images

The National Hockey League is reporting that New York Rangers star Marian Gaborik is set to undergo rotator cuff surgery next week.

The 30-year-old right winger, whose 41 goals in 2011-2012 placed third in the NHL, could miss up to two months of next season in recovery.

Per Gaborik:

"MRI showed that I had a torn rotator cuff. [The] last two months I played with [the] injury. It was not easy. The medication and injections reduced the pain, but I did not have the strength that I needed.

I suppose I will be out for about five or six months."

Today's news, while certainly unfortunate for the Rangers, sets up for an extremely intriguing offseason in the Big Apple.

Blueshirts' GM Glen Sather was already rumored to be very interested in Columbus winger Rick Nash—unquestionably the biggest name on the trade market this summer. 

But that was back when Gaborik and center Brad Richards were locked in as the other first-line forwards.

Now, the situation is a little different. Gaborik has vacated the right wing spot for at least the first third of the '12-'13 season, and has a whopping 25 restricted or unrestricted free agents (11 of which at the NHL level) to deal with within his own organization.

Given Gaborik's injury, Ryan Callahan, who scored 29 goals this past season at first-line wing, is now almost completely assured of keeping his position into next year.

Gaborik, seen here checked by New Jersey's Andy Greene, was clearly feeling the pain during the Rangers' playoff run.
Gaborik, seen here checked by New Jersey's Andy Greene, was clearly feeling the pain during the Rangers' playoff run.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

However, no other Rangers' winger scored more than 14 goals and 34 points in '11-'12, leaving Sather few under-contract options for filling the remaining first-line slot.

And that's where Rick Nash comes in.

The former first overall pick is, without a doubt, the perfect fit for the Rangers. Nash has tallied eight straight 50-plus point seasons with one of the League's perennial bottom-feeders, and hit the 40-goal plateau two different seasons over that stretch, as well—and he's not even 28 years old yet.

Moreover, the Rangers also have the assets to make a winning trade offer.

The rumors are that Sather was willing to offer Brandon Dubinsky, prospects J.T. Miller and Tim Erixon and a variety of draft picks for Nash at February's trade deadline. This summer, RFA defenseman Michael Del Zotto, goalie prospect Scott Stajcer or the Blueshirts' first-round draft pick could also come into play.

Of course, Nash isn't the only possible addition who could fill the gap. San Jose's Patrick Marleau, Calgary's Jarome Iginla, or pending free agents Zach Parise and Shane Doan could be serviceable, as well.

Nonetheless, none of those players could equal the impact that Nash would make in New York, and Sather seems to have already found the inside track in the Nash bidding war, too.

Marian Gaborik's now-certain surgery throws a colossal wrench in the Rangers' summer plans.

But there's a way to get around the dilemma.

His name is Rick Nash.


Mark Jones is a Bleacher Report featured columnist for the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL. In three and a half years with the site, he has written more than 380 articles and received over 500,000 reads.

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