Blue Jackets Mean Business, Land Marian Gaborik

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By Tim Lucarelli (@tlucarelli)

A few days before the trade deadline, the consensus was that most of the big fish had already been moved – Jay Bouwmeester, Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, Jarome Iginla, and Brenden Morrow. But Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen – who had been relatively quiet since being named GM on February 13th – was ready to make a splash.

Kekalainen made a series of trades on deadline day, the biggest being the acquisition of All Star winger Marian Gaborik. The final trade sent Gaborik, D Steven Delisle, and D Blake Partlett to Columbus in exchange for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett,  John Moore, and a 2014 sixth round draft pick.

“Throughout this process, our focus was to add a player who could provide a boost to our offense, improve our goal scoring and power play, and we identified Marian Gaborik as the player we wanted,” said Kekalainen. “He has been an elite goal scorer in this league for many years and we are very excited to have him.”

Gaborik is a three-time All Star who has registered an even 333 goals and 333 assists, in addition to a +84 rating and 398 penalty minutes in 757 career NHL games. Last season, Gaborik posted 41-35-76, while ranking third in the NHL in goals scored and 15th overall in points.

“I had some time to think about [the trade] and I talked to some guys who played there and I talked to John Davidson. I decided that they are a young team going in the right direction,” said Gaborik.

Delisle was originally selected by the Blue Jackets in the third round (107th overall) in 2008, and was sent to New York as part of the Rick Nash trade. The 6-6, 233-pound defenseman has played four games in the AHL this season (0-2-2) and 61 games in the ECHL (4-16-20).

Partlett was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on June 2, 2011, and the 6-1, 205-pound defender has tallied 6-22-28 in 67 games with the Connecticut Whale (AHL) this season.

In other moves, Kekalainen acquired G Michael Leighton and a third round draft pick in 2015 (for Steve Mason) and Blake Comeau (for a fifth round draft pick in 2015).

Leighton has a record of 35-41-19 with a 2.97 goals-against-average, .901 save percentage, and four shutouts in 105 career NHL games. He has also appeared in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games, posting an 8-4 record 2.54 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, and three shutouts in 2010 and 2011 with Philadelphia.

Comeau is a former second round selection (47th overall) in 2004, and has registered 65-78-143 in 352 games.

“We are excited to add Blake Comeau to our hockey club and believe he will fit in perfectly with our style of play. He is a physical, hard-hitting forward who has also shown the ability to score goals,” said Kekalainen.

Columbus’ next game is Thursday in Nashville at 8pm ET. The next home game is Sunday at 6pm ET vs. Minnesota Wild, Gaborik’s first NHL team.

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