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Marian Gaborik trade could be final piece of Blue Jackets' playoff puzzle

The risk appears to be higher for the Blue Jackets in the Marian Gaborik trade, but he could also be the missing piece of their playoff puzzle.

Christopher Pasatieri

The New York Rangers completed arguably the biggest trade of this deadline season when they sent Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday as the center piece of a deal that brought back Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Derick Brassard and a sixth-round draft pick.

For the Rangers, this deal appeared to be an attempt to fill-out the middle of their roster. After trading for Rick Nash this summer, as well as allowing players like Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko to walk via free agency, many wondered whether the newly structured lineup was too top heavy.

In addition, Gaborik was reportedly not getting along with head coach John Tortorella and had been demoted in Torts' lineup several times throughout the season. He is also carrying an annual average value of $7.5 million against the salary cap through next season.

With the cap scheduled to go down to $64.3 million, the subtraction of Gaborik will give the Rangers more flexibility when attempting to sign any of their five pending-restricted free agents and/or newly acquired forward Ryane Clowe, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency in July. Theoretically, it could also allow the Rangers to hold onto a compliance buyout, as they only have one remaining after using their first on Wade Redden prior to this season.

For Columbus, this move is an attempt to make a push for the playoffs. The Blue Jackets have made only one playoff appearance in the history of the franchise and sit two points back of the eighth seed entering competition on Thursday night.

General manager Jarmo Kekäläinen stated in the weeks leading up to the deadline that he was not looking to make an aggressive move and wanted to be patient in building his roster. However, he and president John Davidson changed their minds in the days leading up to the deadline when they stated that one of their three first-round draft selections would be available for a scoring winger.

Ultimately, they held onto the picks but sent out a sizable package for the winger, making them one of the bigger winners at the 2013 deadline.

In adding Gaborik, the Blue Jackets have a player who has registered 666 points (333 goals, 333 assists) in 757 career NHL games. Of course, only 19 of those points were registered this season (nine goals, 10 assists).

The pit-falls of this deal appear to be more hazardous for Columbus than New York. The Rangers still have Nash and Brad Richards who have proven themselves as top-tier producers in the NHL. Tortorella -- by most accounts -- hated (too strong?) Gaborik and didn't like his lack of defensive awareness.

The Blue Jackets gave up multiple pieces, which seems to be a risky decision with a franchise in transition. With Gaborik's production down and his reputation as a defensive liability, this move could be the case of a still maturing team making a push too early in their development.

Of course, he could also turn out to be the missing piece in their playoff puzzle.

New York is certainly pleased with the early returns on the deal, as both Brassard and Moore scored in their debut with the team on Thursday night. In addition, Clowe picked up two goals, which were his first two of the season.

Gaborik is expected to make his debut with Columbus when the Blue Jackets challenge the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

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