Marian Gaborik, first draft pick of Wild and Cup winner with the Kings, retires

Marian Gaborik, seen here rocking the Kings retro sweater in 2016, has retired from the NHL. (AP/file)

Goal-scoring forward Marian Gaborik, the first ever draft pick by the Minnesota Wild, on Thursday announced his retirement from the NHL after a 17-season, 1,035-game career.

The native of Trencin, Slovakia, had 815 career points (407 goals, 408 assists) with the Wild, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.

Gaborik had 14 goals in the 2014 playoffs to help the Kings win the Stanley Cup.

“It’s been a great honour and privilege to play in the best league in the world since I was 18 years old. The journey has been nothing short from spectacular, amazing and unbelievable,” Gaborik said in an NHLPA media release and on Twitter. "Many times, it’s been a roller coaster, but I always found the way back. Saying that, I’m so grateful and thankful to my family, my agent, teammates and coaches."

Gaborik was drafted third overall by the Wild in 2000, making him the highest-drafted Slovak in NHL history. He also scored the first goal in Wild history and was the first All-Star for the franchise.

In the 2000-01 season, his first in the NHL, he was fifth among all rookies in goals (18) and tied for fifth in points (36) in 71 games. The six-foot-one, 200-pound forward had his first 30-goal season in 2001-02, which he matched the next season.

In the Wild's first ever playoff appearance, in the spring of 2003, Gaborik scored nine goals and eight assists to help lead the Wild to the Conference Final.

Gaborik is the all-time Wild franchise leader in goals (219) and game-winning goals (43). On July 1, 2009, he signed as a free agent with the Rangers, where he led the team in points (86) and assists (44) – both new career highs – and goals (42), which matched his personal best.

In 2011-12, the high-scoring forward once again led the Rangers in goals (41) and points (76), and he was named MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game before he later scored 11 points during the Rangers’ trip to the Conference Final.

In his final season, 2017-18, while with the Ottawa Senators Gaborik underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on April 5, 2018, and ended his career on the injured reserve list. His rights were traded in 2000 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the move was seen as a salary-cap maneuver.

Gaborik represented Slovakia several times, highlighted by two appearances in the Olympics (2006, 2010) and six appearances in the World Championship (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2015), while he played twice in both the World Cup (2004, as well as 2016 with Team Europe) and the World Junior Championship (1999, 2000).

A dynamic, playmaking forward, Gaborik recorded 58 points in 84 playoff games, and he was a three-time All-Star (2003, 2008, 2012) who recorded seven 30-goal seasons, including three 40-goal seasons, while placing fifth among his countrymen in NHL career goals and points.

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