Kings GM backs acquisition of Marian Gaborik

Kings GM Dean Lombardi is confident new addition Marian Gaborik can thrive with the Kings.

Andrew D. Bernstein

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — In 2012, the Kings acquired a maligned scorer from Columbus at the trade deadline. Jeff Carter then scored eight goals with five assists (13 points) in the 2012 playoffs, helping Los Angeles win its first-ever Stanley Cup.

Sound familiar? Wednesday, the Kings acquired a maligned scorer from Columbus at the trade deadline. While the rest of Marian Gaborik’s story has yet to be written, general manager Dean Lombardi is quick to point out that their situation isn’t quite as similar as it was in 2012. 

Speaking to the media on a conference call following the deadline Wednesday afternoon, Lombardi expressed significantly more excitement for the acquisition of Gaborik than his head coach, Darryl Sutter, but still said he would need to come in and be a part of the team. 

This isn’t the Marian Gaborik show – Los Angeles doesn’t need a headliner.

"He doesn’t have to come in here and be the man. That’s what I like. You don’t have to be the centerpiece – just fit in and play," Lombardi said. "Everywhere he’s gone, he’s had to be the box-office guy. Our box office is winning."

Surging Kings busy at trade deadline

Lombardi said the 32-year-old forward hasn’t always played around top-tier talent like the Kings currently have. He sees it as a situation that Gaborik could thrive in.

"We have other top players where you just can fit in and not worry about the billboard stuff," Lombardi said. "A lot of players at his stage would welcome that."

But Gaborik is a scorer and the Kings are a team that is built on defense. Yes, the team is now in a near-dire need of scoring but that doesn’t mean the team is about to shift its foundation. The other scorers have had to give way to the defense-first mentality at times and Sutter and Lombardi expect no different from their star acquistion.

"The high-end guys, like (Anze) Kopitar, (Jeff) Carter, (Drew) Doughty – all these guys never have lost sight of the fact there’s a price to be paid," Lombardi said. "And that’s what we’re expecting from him, meshing in that team, and then bring to this team what it does not have in its arsenal – an explosive player that can make something out of nothing."

Columbus is still paying half of his salary this season, and although he’s viewed as a rental, Lombardi sounded optimistic at the possibility of signing him to a deal at the end of the season.

"I like this," Lombardi said. "He’s coming here with the purpose of staying here, versus some of the things you saw out there with some of the other free agents, where the player says, ‘I’m going to July 1.’"