BEST WILD PLAYER - 2007
Readers' Choice: Marian Gaborik
While Derek "The Boogeyman" Boogaard remains a sentimental favorite, we have to give the nod to Marian Gaborik, who may be the fastest skater in the NHL. The 25-year-old right winger heads the team's all-time scoring list and was among the goal leaders this year despite missing 34 games due to a serious groin injury. Gaborik worked just as diligently in rehab as he did on the ice, rejoining the lineup in time to lead the Wild into the playoffs. Born in Trencin, Slovakia, Gaborik has embraced the Twin Cities like a native son, donating an Xcel Center suite so that sick children from the Ronald McDonald House and other charities could watch games as "Gaborik's Guests." Recently, he was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy—an honor named for the late North Stars player who tragically died from head injuries suffered in a game—which is bestowed on a player who exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. That describes Gabby to a T.