(Photo Credit: Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch)

By: Michael Rudd follow me on Twitter @Bosmike808.

With the NHL trade deadline just over a month away, it’s a good time to look at who the Bruins could realistically add to the roster. Naturally, adding a defenseman should be the top priority for Don Sweeney and company. You don’t have to look further than last year’s first-round exit against the Carolina Hurricanes. During that seven-game series Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, and Matt Grzelcyk all missed time. Looking a little deeper, McAvoy and Grzelcyk have only played over 70 games in a season once each in their careers. For all his injury issues, even Brandon Carlo has played over 70 games in four seasons.

The Bruins are tied for the top offense in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres when writing this, scoring 3.81 goals per game. However, with injuries always being a concern, especially for this group, the big move must be on defense. The offense is clearly clicking, so a more defensive-style defenseman should be the target. This is where Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov comes in.

Who is Vladislav Gavrikov?

Vladislav Gavrikov was a 2015 sixth-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 6 foot 3 213 pounds left-handed defenseman honed his craft in the KHL, where he spent the next four seasons after being drafted. In 2014-15 Gavrikov won the best defenseman at the U20 World Junior Championship while helping lead Russia to a silver medal. Gavrikov also won Olympic gold at the 2018 winter games. However, that was before he joined the NHL and Columbus for the 2019-20 season. Since making the jump to the NHL, Gavrikov has become a top-4 shutdown defender.

The Columbus blue line has been decimated with injuries over the last two seasons, and Gavrikov has anchored the backend playing over 22 minutes per game. In the 127 games, Gavrikov has played in the previous two years; he is a combined minus nine. In those same 127 games, the Blue Jackets have a negative 99-goal differential. Plus-minus is a flawed stat, but Gavrikov is clearly doing something right defensively, only to be a minus-nine while 99 goals are outscoring his team. Last season Gavrikov scored a career-high 33 points, but that isn’t his typical production. Gavrikov scored 18 points in 69 games in the 2019-20 season and 12 points in 55 games the following season. So far this season, Gavrikov has scored 10 points in 47 games. Fortunately, the Bruins don’t need more scoring from the blue line making Gavrikov’s defensive game a great fit.

What a Trade Could Look Like

On Monday, January 23rd, the 32 Thoughts podcast touched on what a possible Gavrikov trade could look like.

Elliotte Friedman starts by saying Columbus is okay with allowing teams to discuss an extension with Gavrikov’s camp. Elliotte and his co-host Jeff Marek say Columbus is looking for a package similar to the David Savard trade or the Ben Chiarot trade. For reference, Savard was moved for a first-round pick and a third-rounder in the next draft. Chiarot was traded with 50% of his salary retained for a fourth-round pick, a prospect, and an unprotected first in the next draft.

Why were those players worth those returns? Savard is a right-handed defenseman in his seventh straight season, playing over 19 minutes a game with over 100 hits and 100 blocks. Chiarot was coming off Montreal’s trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, where he played 25 minutes a game during that run. As impressive as Gavrikov has been, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t have the same value at this point.

Any trade for Gavrikov will be built around a first-round pick going back to Columbus. However, instead of a third-round pick or a fourth and a prospect, maybe it’s just a low-round pick or a mid-tier prospect. Any extension would mean a better return as well. What do you think? Would you trade a first-round pick this year and a fifth-round pick next year for Gavrikov? How about a first and a prospect like Oscar Steen? Keep checking back for more trade targets as the trade deadline approaches. Stay safe out there, and until next time, let’s go, Bruins.