Trade Deadline Profile: Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets
Photo credit:Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
Over the next few weeks leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, I’ll be doing an in-depth look at the players who are on the trade block and whether they would be a good fit for the Edmonton Oilers. Today, we have Vladislav Gavrikov.
Who is Vladislav Gavrikov?
Much like David Savard a couple of years ago, Vladislav Gavrikov is a shutdown defender drafted and developed by the Columbus Blue Jackets who will be traded to help improve the blueline of a contending team.
Gavrikov was selected by Columbus in the sixth round of the 2015 draft following a season in which he split time between the KHL, MHL, and VHL and captained Russia’s World Juniors team. Gavrikov spent the next few seasons honing his game in the KHL, playing two seasons with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and two with SKA St. Petersburg, and also won gold with Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The Blue Jackets inked Gavrikov to a two-year, entry-level contract in April of 2019 and he made his NHL debut during the team’s second-round playoff series with the Boston Bruins after they had pulled off a huge upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
Since then, Gavrikov has been a mainstay on Columbus’ blueline.
Gavrikov quietly had a strong rookie season in the NHL in 2019-20. He played alongside the aforementioned David Savard on a shutdown defensive pairing and had a 45-to-44 on-ice goal differential at even strength. In the playoffs, Gavrikov logged an average of 23:21 per game and helped the Blue Jackets pull off an upset over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the play-in round.
Over the next few years, the Blue Jackets unloaded pieces of their blueline and Gavrikov took on a larger role. The team dealt Seth Jones away before the 2021-22 season and Savard was moved ahead of that season’s trade deadline. Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, Gavrikov put up 43 points over 132 games while logging over 22:18 per night on average.
Gavrikov’s on-ice goal differential in 2021-22 was 69-to-84 and it’s sitting at 30-to-46 thus far in 2022-23, which is far from impressive, but it’s important to take these results with a grain of salt given the context. Gavrikov has been munching major minutes on a terrible team over the past couple of years while playing next to another shutdown defender in Andrew Peeke. His results would surely be better playing second-pairing minutes on a stronger team as the defensive guy alongside a puck-mover.
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Would he be a good fit for the Oilers?
We’ve seen a couple of big names moved well ahead of this season’s March 3 trade deadline and it looks like Gavrikov could be the next. He’s been made a healthy scratch for “trade-related purposes” by the Blue Jackets for over a week and Aaron Portzline reported in The Athletic over the weekend that the team is ready to make a deal…
“Gavrikov missed his third consecutive game while the Blue Jackets finalize a trade ahead of the March 3 NHL deadline. GM Jarmo Kekalainen would not say what the holdup is, but it’s believed the Jackets have a trade in place that requires another transaction to take place first.”
There’s reason to believe that the team that Kekalainen is waiting on here is the Oilers. There have been rumours flying around Edmonton for weeks that the team is close to pulling the trigger on a trade involving Jesse Puljujarvi, which would open up the salary cap room necessary for Gavrikov to be added to the Oilers’ roster.
The fit is pretty clear, as well. The Oilers are on a four-game losing streak and have allowed 20 goals in those games and now rank 22nd in the league in terms of goals against. While Edmonton’s top players have asked general manager Ken Holland to acquire a puck-mover, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see him instead go out and acquire a defensive defenceman.
Gavrikov is a defender who skates well and plays his position soundly. He isn’t intimidating and doesn’t throw bone-crushing hits but he suppresses offence and keeps opposing forwards to the outside with his long reach. Though he’s not a game-changing talent, Gavrikov is a useful defender to have during the playoffs when games get tighter.
Trading for Gavrikov would give Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson a couple of interesting options for the team’s blueline. He could be the defensive guy who plays responsibly next to Evan Bouchard, similar to Duncan Keith last year. He could also form a shutdown pairing with Cody Ceci, which would open Darnell Nurse to play more minutes with Bouchard or Vincent Desharnais.
What would the Blue Jackets want in return?
The Blue Jackets traded David Savard to the Lightning ahead of the trade deadline back in 2021 in exchange for a first- and a third-round pick. The assumption is that Columbus is looking for something similar in return for Gavrikov this year.
Another thing worth noting about Gavrikov is that he reportedly isn’t interested in signing long-term with a Canadian team, so this would be a pure rental situation…
Dealing a first-round pick to acquire a rental would be out of character for Holland, a general manager who values drafting and developing talent with a strong minor-league system. He’s only moved his first-round pick in a mid-season move once in the salary cap era. That came in 2012 when the Red Wings acquired defenceman Kyle Quincey and he was re-signed to a multi-year contract in the off-season.
Gavrikov would be a useful addition for the Oilers as they could use a veteran shutdown defender for their blueline but a first-round pick is a steep price to pay for such a player. We might instead see Holland look for a cheaper option to fill this role.
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