If the Columbus Blue Jackets are intent on signing Marian Gaborik to a contract extension, they'll want to see a bit more from the veteran winger on the ice first.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch on Friday that he wants to see Gaborik's contributions go beyond the scoresheet before considering a long-term deal for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.
"I think he's done a lot of good things," Kekalainen told The Dispatch. "And I think he could do more. He could be the driving force of the team. I'd like to see him taking charge, driving the team with his example - not only with the points but with everything else he does.
"He's at the point in his career where he could take the next step in that area. He's proven he can score points, score goals. I want to believe that even a 30-year-old or a 35-year-old player can get better, and that's one area that I want to see more from him."
The Dispatch adds that there have been no talks about a contract extension between both sides and there's no urgency from either camp to start just yet.
"We haven't approached his agent (Ron Salcer), he hasn't approached us," Kekalainen told the paper. "We're both kind of in the let's-see-how-this-works-out place. I think it's fair.
"I'm not mad at his agent. I'm just hoping he's going to be a great player for us."
Gaborik is making $7.5 million this season - the final one of a five-year, $37.5 million deal he signed with the Rangers prior to the 2009-10 campaign. Originally selected third overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2000, Gaborik has scored 341 goals and 343 assists in 779 career games with the Jackets, Rangers and Wild.
"I always say to players: leave a legacy behind you as a great teammate, a great leader, a great example," Kekalainen added. "Those are the areas he can do a lot more in, and I think he wants to, too. But if you want to be a leader, you have to do it every day."