KiPA here, wanting to chime in with some thoughts on Marian Gaborik and where he's likely to be at the end of the year.
Before we begin, though, I'm going to say the original post ended up so long that I'm breaking it up into two. We'll look at the Western Conference teams tonight.
First, I think it's unlikely Minnesota will get a stud in return. I think it's more likely they'd get a 20-25 goal scorer, a mid-level prospect and a draft pick. So musings of Gaborik for Malkin? I think those are ridiculous. No real reason for the Penguins to do that. Would you?
Let's do a team-by-team breakdown. I won't claim to know each team's prospects (in fact I know very little of most of them) so what I'll do is just look at each team's NHL roster and who they might give up in a trade. Why do it that way? Well, I just mentioned my lack of knowledge about each team's prospects and because I think the Wild have to get an NHL-caliber forward back in any deal for Gaborik. I'll also analyze teams' cap space.
No chance. They don't have the cap space. If they did, Bobby Ryan would have to be the centerpiece of any deal, but they couldn't afford to keep him in the NHL this season and won't give him up. Corey Perry or Chris Kunitz aren't going anywhere.
We'll keep this short. No chance. No salary cap room, Doug Risebrough will try to avoid trading within the division if at all possible, and they have a nice lineup as is.
Similar deal with Calgary except the Hawks aren't in the Wild's division.
Same division as the Wild, so unlikely. They won't part with Paul Stastny and probably not Marek Svatos or Ryan Smyth, so I don't know what else they'd have that would interest the Wild.
The Blue Jackets won't trade Rick Nash, who they named captain. They just signed Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger in the offseason, so while they'd have room to trade for (and sign) Gaborik, I don't think they'll be giving up any young players. They're more than Gaborik away from contending for anything.
Here's a question: how pained would Wild fans be if Gaborik went to the old Minnesota team? Would Dallas part with Mike Ribeiro? Ehh, I doubt it. Unless they think he's a one-year wonder. Morrow's not going anywhere. The Stars won't be a player in the sweepstakes.
No Wings involved this season. Probably not in the offseason either. I don't see Gaborik doing a Hossa and signing for one year with the Red Wings, especially since they have to give Henrik Zetterberg a new deal.
Here's an intriguing possibility. Problem is they're divisional rivals which makes a trade unlikely.
Surely the Wild would be interested in any of the following: Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and maybe even Robert Nilsson. But I don't see the Oilers parting with those guys, at least not to Minnesota. So they're out.
The Kings have emerged as one of the teams most in the rumor mill. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown aren't going anywhere. Patrick O'Sullivan just signed a contract and theoretically could end up returning to Minnesota. Alexander Frolov? Good young winger, same age as Gaborik, but cheaper. I doubt LA would part with Frolov but we're not ruling the Kings out of the chase. They might be a player.
The Predators could really use a winger. Doesn't look like Alexander Radulov will be in the NHL and Steve Sullivan is still battling injuries. What do they have to give up? J-P Dumont is signed through 2012 and is a real nice player. What about David Legwand though? Are the Preds about ready to give up on him? He's actually signed through 2014, so that would suggest no. Martin Erat's signed for even longer, so I don't see the Predators giving up the future for the present.
They just traded for Olli Jokinen, so that's where a lot of their trade chips went. I can't imagine they'll trade captain Shane Doan or center Peter Mueller. Kyle Turris has some upside and could be tempting but I don't see it. We won't rule the Coyotes out however.
Here's a team that might match up. I hear a lot about how many goals Gaborik would score with Crosby, well what about how many he'd score with Joe Thornton? Maybe not as many but certainly a lot. How's this for a line: Milan Michalek-Thornton-Gaborik? Maybe the Sharks give up on Patrick Marleau, who surely will bounce back from his horrid 2007-08 season. That and financially that could be the only way it would work. Maybe San Jose would even include Jonathan Cheechoo, whose time surely is expiring in San Jose. He's looking more and more like a one-season wonder (though 20-25 goals isn't awful). Doubt the Sharks give up Joe Pavelski. But Gaborik could end up here.
Don't expect them to trade Brad Boyes any time soon. I heard a proposal of T.J. Oshie, a supposed stud from North Dakota. If he's the stud he is though, the Blues will want to control him for as long as they can. They're another team that might have the pieces but need more than Gaborik to fix their problems. Gaborik won't be in St. Louis.
I'm about to commit blasphemy here as far as Wild fans are concerned, but Ryan Kesler's got some talent. Him and Steve Bernier, perhaps even Mason Raymond or Taylor Pyatt, could be good fits, but I highly doubt these teams make a trade with each other.
I'll post my Eastern Conference outlook later.