The New York Rangers have traded slumping forward Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second trade of star players between the teams within the past year.
Gaborik was dealt to the Blue Jackets Wednesday, just before the NHL’s afternoon trade deadline, for center Derick Brassard, right wing Derek Dorsett and defenseman John Moore.
Gaborik waived a no-movement clause in order to allow the deal to be completed.
It was the second big trade for the playoff-hopeful Rangers in two days. On Tuesday night, the New York acquired forward Ryane Clowe from the San Jose Sharks for a package of three draft picks.
New York and Columbus have become big-time trading partners in recent times.
The Rangers received top-line forward Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets in a trade last July that sent Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick in this year’s draft to Columbus.
Nash, the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft by the Blue Jackets in 2002, has 13 goals and 30 points in his first 31 games with New York.
The Rangers entered play on Wednesday in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind area rivals New Jersey and the New York Islanders, who currently hold the final two playoff positions. The Rangers have 13 games remaining.
Columbus also has its sights on the playoffs in the Western Conference, sitting in 11th place but only one point below the postseason cutoff. The Blue Jackets have qualified for the playoffs only once in their first 11 NHL seasons – losing in the first round in 2009.
Gaborik has been disappointing this season, his fourth with the Rangers, as he has only nine goals and 19 points in 35 games while shuttling between various lines. He didn’t score in his final five games with New York and notched only two goals and five assists in the past 22.
Gaborik had two 40-goal campaigns in three-plus seasons after signing with the Rangers as a free agent in July 2009. He netted 42 goals in 2009-10 and 41 last season when he played in all 82 games. He was limited to 22 goals and 62 games in the 2010-11 season because of injury.
Gaborik had six goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games with New York over two years, including last season when the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals. Gaborik was hampered by a shoulder injury during the playoffs that required surgery during the offseason.
Including eight seasons with the Minnesota Wild, the 31-year-old Gaborik has 333 goals and 333 assists in 757 career NHL games.
The deal will give the Rangers much-needed salary relief. Gaborik carries a $7.5 million cap hit this season and next, the final year of his contract. The added flexibility could help New York re-sign the newly acquired Clowe, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Brassard has seven goals and 18 points in 34 games this season, and Dorsett posted three goals and six assists in 24 games before he broke his collarbone on March 7 in a game against Vancouver.
Dorsett, who is on the injured list, could miss the rest of the season. In 280 NHL games, all with Columbus, Dorsett has 27 goals and 38 assists. He led the league with 235 penalty minutes last season, but also set career highs with 12 goals, 20 points, 137 shots, while playing in 77 games.