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NHL notebook: Gaborik re-signs with Kings to avoid free agency

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 7:24 p.m.

Star left wing Marian Gaborik agreed to a seven-year deal Wednesday to stay with the Kings, passing on the financial possibilities of unrestricted free agency to stay with the champs.

“I know I could get maybe more money if I would have gone to free agency, but it wasn't about money,” Gaborik said. “I wanted to stay here and be part of a great team.”

Los Angeles acquired the Slovak scoring machine from Columbus on March 5, and he was an immediate hit. Gaborik scored 16 points in 19 regular-season games before leading the NHL with 14 postseason goals during the Kings' run to their second title in three years.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi struck a long-term deal before Gaborik became a free agent next week. Gaborik's contract is worth about $34 million, likely less than a seven-time 30-goal scorer would have commanded on the open market.

“All along I wanted to stay here,” Gaborik said. “The organization knew it, the players knew it, everybody knew it, my agent knew it. I believed we could get it done.”

• The Lightning took a top free agent off the market by signing forward Ryan Callahan to a six-year contract. Tampa Bay acquired Callahan from the Rangers on March 5 along with a pair of draft picks for Martin St. Louis, who helped his new team reach the Stanley Cup Final. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said Callahan is a “fierce competitor and outstanding leader who fits very well with our team.” Said Callahan: “I am excited for this new chapter of my career. Tampa Bay has been a great place to live and play from the day I got there. As soon as the season ended, I knew it was a place I wanted to be.”

• The Lightning used the second of their two compliance buyouts on forward Ryan Malone. An Upper St. Clair native, the 34-year-old Malone had one year at $2.5 million remaining on a seven-year, $31.5 million contract he signed heading into the 2008-09 season. Malone scored 20 or more goals in three of his first four seasons with the Lightning but was limited to 11 goals in 81 games over the past two seasons.

• The Blue Jackets traded defenseman Nikita Nikitin to the Oilers in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Columbus re-acquired the 2014 draft pick it sent to Edmonton in exchange for defenseman Nick Schultz in March. The 28-year-old Nikitin had two goals and 13 assists for 15 points in 66 games with Columbus last season.

— Wire reports

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