Generally speaking, fantasy owners should know what to expect from a player by the time he’s 28-30 years old. Sure, there are definitely exceptions – Tim Thomas didn’t become an everyday NHL player until he crossed that barrier – but usually there’s enough information to assess a given person’s relative worth.
29-year-old sniper Marian Gaborik bucks that trend in a serious way, although almost no one should doubt his high-end skills. Gabby is really tough to peg for the simple reason that he just can’t stay healthy.
Drafting Gaborik usually requires a considerable gamble, even if the exact round of that risk varies from league to league and season to season. This time around it was a particularly enticing siren call because of the free agent addition of Brad Richards, aka the most potent passer who’s ever skated alongside him from the center position. (Actually, let’s be honest – Richards is Gaborik’s best offensive teammate, period. One could quibble about Mikko Koivu being just as good of an all-around player, but that doesn’t matter so much in the roto-realm.)
As exciting as his skills and newfound position might be, I was pretty cold on Gaborik because of the daily headaches that can come with his nagging injuries. So far, Gaborik has been well-worth the gamble, though. The New York Rangers forward has nine goals and 15 points along with a +8 rating in 14 games in 2011-12. It’s not like he’s getting a crazy amount of bounces, either. Only James Neal (64 SOG) has more shots than Gaborik’s 62 and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ winger has an extra game under his belt.
So can he keep it up? The answer is as simple as it’s always been: only if he stays healthy. Sadly, there’s no way to really know that will happen, either. In cases like these, I’d normally recommend a trade in which you cash in on his value. The thing with Gaborik is that he breaks that mold, too; if you’re in a moderately competent league, managers will be reluctant to make a swap for Gabby for anywhere near equal value.
Then again, maybe that’s the beauty of drafting a guy like Gaborik. The bottom line is that you’ll probably ride the roller coaster all season, so hold on tight.
(Now as far as red-hot Rangers you might actually be able to grab, Derek Stepan scored seven points in his last three games to push his season total to 10. He might be worth a short-term grab since he’s available in a huge chunk of leagues.)
After the jump: the hottest line you’ve probably never heard of, the return of Pronger and more.