On June 23, 2000, the Wild took part in the expansion draft, with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that draft, they built most of their team up for their inaugural season. But when they came out of that draft, they were missing an elite goal scorer on the team.
The very next day, the Wild held the 3rd overall pick in the 2000 Entry Draft. And following Rick DiPietro and Dany Heatley, the Wild selected 18 year old Marian Gaborik from Slovakia.
Gaborik had all the tools required to be the superstar the Wild needed. He had skilled hands, he could fly down the ice, and he had a snapshot that was far superior than most other players.
The good news was, he was very successful in bringing those elite tools to Minnesota.
In 8 seasons in Minnesota, Gaborik set most offensive records for the team, and set the bar for those records pretty high. At the time of his departure, Gaborik held the Wild all time record for Goals, Assists, Points in a Wild career, and also set many single season records in the same categories.
"Gabby" found a way to score at least 30 goals respectively, in 5 seasons here. He was the go to guy. The player you wanted to shoot the puck on a power play. During his time here, there perhaps was no other player in the league, who meant more to his team's success, than Marian Gaborik was to Minnesota.
Marian's finest season came in the 2007-08 division championship season, when he set the Wild single season record for goals, assists, and points when he put up a 42-41-83 line. He did it with his countryman, Pavol Demitra on his wing. And as we noted in Demitra's post last Wednesday, the two were great linemates together.
But despite the great goal scoring production from Gaborik, the big problem with him was his inability to stay healthy (A certain lower body injury was always the problem). Just 4 out of his 8 seasons here, he played in more than 71 games. And in those 4 seasons he did not, he averaged 49 games played.
And even though he had shortened seasons, he still found a way to score 30 goals in at least 5 seasons. So not a bad consolation prize for being oft injured.
In his final season in Minnesota, Gaborik went down with an injury early on in the season, and returned very late in March. But more importantly, the Wild were unable to trade him away and get something in return because he was shelved for all but 17 games in 2008-09.
The following summer, Gaborik departed Minnesota and signed a big contract with the New York Rangers (The same team he scored 5 goals on, in one game). In 3 seasons in New York, Gabby has scored 40+ goals in 2 of them, while staying surprisingly healthy.
Marian Gaborik, didn't exactly leave Minnesota on great terms. And now that its been a few seasons, the saltiness of his departure has left, and we can all just sit back and appreciate his time spent here.
He has been the best player in the short 11 year history of the franchise. But, the question is, will he still be #1, in another 11 years?
That concludes the Wild All Time Top 10 List! Thanks for reading along!
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