EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Only hours before the NHL trade deadline, the surging Kings showed that they intend to keep momentum with a handful of transactions to improve the club both immediately and in the future.
The biggest name of the day was Marian Gaborik, who will come to Los Angeles from Columbus in exchange for forward Matt Frattin, a second-round and a conditional third-round draft pick.
The Kings also acquired defenseman Brayden McNabb and a second-round pick in each of the next two drafts from Buffalo in exchange for prospects Nicolas Deslauriers and Hudson Fasching.
"The young defenseman, obviously the organization felt that there was a lot of really good young forwards in our organization and not great depth in defense, so that’s obviously Brayden McNabb," said head coach Darryl Sutter. "I think the Gaborik and Frattin deal was pretty clear."
When Gaborik is healthy and in his prime, he’s a dangerous sniper that can create his own shot. But the 32-year-old Czechoslovakian has been injured through much of this season only having played in 22 games. However, Gaborik has been productive each of his 14 seasons in the league.
"I coached against him lots in Minnesota as a young guy, but that’s a long time ago," Sutter said. "If you look at his last four or five years, he’s scored a goal every four games, every three games, every two games."
While there’s no reason to think that production will be lessened any time soon, Sutter won’t declare him the savior of the offense. The Kings are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL and with the current five-game win streak aside, Sutter wants to make sure he fits the system.
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"There’s a lot more to the game than goal scoring. You have to be a part of a successful team and part of a nucleus of a group that’s used to winning is the next part."
McNabb has spent most of this season with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester but was close to making the Buffalo roster once again before the trade. The three-time AHL All-Star will report to Manchester. McNabb is physical and competitive with an exceptionally hard shot, as is evidenced by his win in last year’s AHL hardest-shot competition with a 101.8 mile-per-hour slapshot.
It’s no secret that Frattin hasn’t seen as much ice time as he would like in Los Angeles. The 26-year-old, originally acquired in the Jonathan Bernier deal with Toronto, has scored only two goals with four assists in 40 games with Los Angeles this season. His name had been mentioned in trade rumors all week and he was finally taken off the ice during practice at the Toyota Sports Center Thursday morning after the deal was made official.
Fresh start,new chapter,new chalenge with #LAKings!Very very excited! Thank you #CBJ for giving me a chance to play in Cbus #greatteammates
"It’s a fresh start and they’re a good team in the playoff hunt," Frattin said. "I haven’t played in five games so I’m sure something was going on. Every trade surprises. You don’t expect it, but if it happens you just have to move on."
"I think Fratts wasn’t playing here, and it’s a good opportunity for Fratts" Sutter sad. "We’ll see if Gaborik can fit into our type of game."
In a few other minor transactions, the Kings came to terms with 20-year-old goaltender Patrik Bartosak. Bartosak, another Czech player, is in the midst of a record-breaking season with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. He’s been named the Goalie of the Year in both the WHL and the CHL in recent years and was a fifth-round draft pick last year.