Wild's Gaborik will have to settle low before aiming high

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

After battling through long-term pain, Marian Gaborik can expect only short-term gain on the free-agent market this summer.

Bothered by a groin problem that required surgery, the Wild winger would have been one of the NHL's most sought-after unrestricted free agents come July, but after missing most of the season he's now regarded as a high-risk signing.

The 26-year-old Gaborik, who made $7.5 million (all terms US) this season, turned down a five-year deal worth around $40 million from the Wild in September.

Gaborik, who had 11 goals and nine assists in 16 games heading into last night's season finale, is not going to get offered anywhere near that type of money as a UFA.

The talk is Gaborik will take something like a two-year deal in $12-million range, possibly from the Canucks so he can play with close friend Pavol Demitra, who is a former member of the Wild and fellow Slovak.

Besides the Canucks, the Kings could be in the mix for Gaborik's services.

If Gaborik had been able to stay healthy, he would have been able to write his own ticket this summer.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Around the boards

Bruins G Manny Fernandez can start looking for work any time. Boston's decision to sign G Tim Thomas to a four-year contract extension last week sealed Fernandez' fate in Beantown. Don't be surprised if Fernandez, who can become a UFA on July 1, gets a shot to be a backup in Dallas. The Stars like him ... Despite a vote of confidence from Oilers owner Daryl Katz, coach Craig MacTavish could still be in trouble with Edmonton after missing the playoffs. President Kevin Lowe isn't the type to stand pat and he still has a lot of say even though he's left the GM's role to Steve Tambellini. The Oilers feel like they have to make some changes and there's talk that MacTavish could be assigned to another part of the organization if he's not back behind the bench. If the Oilers look outside for a coach, former Edmonton D Ryan McGill is a possibility. He is currently with the Flames' AHL affiliate in Quad Cities ... Expect to see Wild coach Jacques Lemaire retire at the end of the season. Could be a good decision because many think he should be fired. Time for Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough and assistant GM Tom Lynn to face a job review.

Off the glass

Florida GM Jacques Martin is in trouble and it has nothing to do with the fact he kept D Jay Bouwmeester at the trade deadline. It's missing the post-season that could spell the end for Martin with the Panthers. If he gets fired he won't be out of work long. Martin could even land behind the Montreal bench as the Canadiens coach ... Voting for the NHL's annual awards will be done this week and the Norris Trophy race is going to be the most interesting to watch. There has been a good battle going on between Boston D Zdeno Chara and Washington D Mike Green. There is no question Green has the offensive numbers to back up his consideration, but Chara has had an outstanding year as well. Chara is my choice. He brings everything to the table with his size, offensive abilities and physical play. Opponents fear him. Take him out of the Bruins' lineup and they're not a first-place team. It's that simple ... Three guys feeling the heat: Dallas co-GMs Brett Hull and Les Jackson and coach Dave Tippett. Something is going to give with the Stars missing the playoffs.

Have a nice Sunday and a Happy Easter.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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