Marian Gaborik, the Rangers' leading scorer, will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and could miss the start of next season.
The 30-year-old right wing, who scored 41 goals in 82 regular-season games and five in 20 playoff games, went "into the boards behind the net . . . shoulder first" in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on April 18, he said, and played through the pain until the Rangers were eliminated May 25.
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After the surgery, he is expected to be sidelined for five to six months. If next season begins on time, and that is uncertain with the league's collective-bargaining agreement expiring Sept. 15, Gaborik could miss the first two months.
By the time of the conference finals against the Devils, the shoulder "was just weak, no power," he said. "My shot wasn't there." At no point, however, did he consider shutting it down.
"I tried to put it aside," he said. "Not just me, a lot of guys were banged up. You try not to think about it . . . I didn't think about surgery until the MRI [this week]. Everybody's banged up. You just want to go out there and go for it."
When he learned of the diagnosis, Gaborik said he was "obviously frustrated. I knew I wasn't OK, but I was hoping for better answers from the doctor. Now I just have to focus on getting back healthy."
He said he will "do everything I can to be back before . . . five months. That's the theory."
Gaborik, who finished third in the league in goals, scored three times against the Capitals in the Eastern semifinals but only once against the Devils in the six-game series. "I just tried to take care of it and tried to play the best I could," he said. "I don't want to make excuses. I know I could play better."
Rangers coach John Tortorella didn't discuss Gaborik's injury on breakup day last Monday, simply conceding that his top offensive players had to provide more. "They tried," he said.
It is believed that the Rangers will target a top scorer -- perhaps New Jersey's Zach Parise or Columbus' Rick Nash -- either by trade or via free agency in the offseason, and this likely intensifies the hunt.
Gaborik's 11-year NHL career has been impacted by injuries. After playing eight years with the Minnesota Wild, Gaborik signed a five-year, $37.5-million contract with the Rangers on July 1, 2009. In his first season, 2009-10, he had 42 goals and 86 points. Troubled by a groin injury and other issues in 2010-11, he played only 62 games and scored 22 goals.
Notes & quotes: Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian winger who spent two seasons with the Rangers and AHL's Connecticut Whale, has signed a one-year deal with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk of Russia's KHL . . . Center Oscar Lindberg, 20, who was acquired from Phoenix for Ethan Werek last May and was playing in Sweden, has agreed to an entry-level deal with the Rangers.