Call to the Hall: Minnesota Wild

Welcome to LWOS Hockey’s summer series, Call to the Hall, where we take a look at the next great player from each NHL franchise to get called to the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are a few caveats, the player must be active, and must have played 300 games (or 150 for goaltenders) with the franchise.

Check out the previous Call to the Hall articles HERE.

Call to the Hall: Minnesota Wild

Having only been around since 2000, it’s not surprising that the Minnesota Wild have yet to retire any player numbers other “1” for their fans. The Wild are in the midst of perhaps their most productive era as a franchise, and it’s likely that players such as Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will one day be honored by the team, and maybe even be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, until that time comes, there is only one player in franchise history who could sneak into the Hall of Fame.


Gaborik’s career began in his native Slovakia where, as a 16-year-old, debuting for HK Dukla Trenčín in 1997-98, he played one game. In his rookie season with the team, Gaborik scored 20 points in 33 games, still playing only part time. The following year, 1999-2000, saw Gaborik’s point total jumped to 46, as he played in 50 games.

In 2000 the Minnesota Wild entered the league by way of expansion. At the NHL Entry Draft that year the team selected Gaborik 3rd overall, making him their first selection in team history. In his rookie season Gaborik tied for the team lead in goals with 18 and finished second overall in scoring with 36 points.

The next two years Gaborik would have back-to-back 30 goal seasons with the Wild. In his third year, 2002-03, Gaborik would not only lead the team in points, but also help them reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. During the course of that playoff run Gaborik recorded 17 points in 18 games, helping the team reach the Western Conference final. That season Gaborik would also be selected to play in his first All-Star game, where he would win the fastest skater competition.

After holding out due to a contract dispute in 2003-04, Gaborik was only able to score 18 goals. However, his next three seasons saw him return to form, scoring 38, 30 and 42 goals respectively. His 42 goals and 83 points in 2007-08 both remain single season records for the Minnesota Wild.

Unfortunately for the Wild and their fans, Gaborik suffered a hip injury the following season and was limited to only 17 games in the final year of his contract with the team. He would leave via free agency at the start of the 2009-10 season, joining the New York Rangers.

With the Rangers Gaborik enjoyed two more 40 goal seasons in 2009-10 and 2011-12. Once again though, injuries continued to plague Gaborik, shortening his 2010-11 season. In 2013 the Rangers traded Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets. His time with Columbus was short, however, as he was dealt again in 2014 to the Los Angeles Kings.

With the Kings Gaborik struggled to find his scoring touch during the regular season. However, in the 2014 playoffs he scored 14 goals to help lead the team to their second Stanley Cup win against his old team the New York Rangers.

Gaborik’s NHL numbers are not great yet. He’s a very good player who if he’d been able to stay healthy his whole career would have a more legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame. For now, he’s a 33-year-old winger on the downside of his career. In 879 NHL games Gaborik has tallied 374 goals, including seven 30-goal seasons, 377 assists and 751 points. It’s likely he’ll be able to get to 500 career goals and 1000 career points if he finishes out his current contract with the Kings. But will that be enough?

One thing that stat sheets do a poor job of showing is the system a player is confined to. Gaborik’s time with the Minnesota Wild should come with an asterisk next to it. Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was a very defensive minded leader, making it hard for Gaborik to fully exploit his speed and talent. Also, being on an expansion team, surrounded by limited talent made it difficult for Gaborik.

In New York and Los Angeles Gaborik hasn’t been exactly had explosive offensive systems either. If he had instead gone to Pittsburgh and played alongside Sidney Crosby, or perhaps went to Washington and played opposite Alex Ovechkin, would he have put up bigger numbers in career? Most likely. But what if’s are what make picking Hall of Fame players fun to debate about.

Internationally, Gaborik has represented Slovakia at the World Championship, Olympics and most notably the World Junior Championships and -18 Championships, where he and the team won bronze medals in 1999.

For now, I think it’s safe to say that Gaborik will be a Slovakian hockey Hall of Fame player, but unless he returns to his 40 goal ways a few more times it’s unlikely he’ll make the Hockey Hall of Fame. But he’s still the greatest Minnesota Wild player in franchise history.

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