Vladislav Gavrikov was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets and played the next four seasons in the KHL with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and SKA St. Petersburg.
When Hockey's Future profiled him before his draft, they said:
A big defenseman with some good mobility, Gavrikov can throw the body around and play with some good edge and grit. He plays more of a defensive style and isn’t a top contributor in the offensive zone, but is good in killing penalties and can play in different situations. His skating needs some work, as does his reactiveness and positional play. He has some upside regarding defensive play, but it’s right now not clear if he has what it takes for a long career in the NHL.
But if his four seasons in the KHL, time with the Russian National Team and his two playoff games for the Blue Jackets have anything to say, then he will find success in the NHL.
Gavrikov played the entire 2018-19 KHL season with SKA St. Petersburg before joining the Blue Jackets for their playoff run (after SKA was knocked out of the KHL playoffs).
Gavrikov played 19:27 minutes per game and held the blue line for SKA by blocking 64 shots and laying some big hits during the season, but don't expect him to come over and just be a defensive weapon for the Jackets. He could help the offense, as well.
John Tortorella likes to activate his defesemen and have them push forward when an opportunity arises – and that is something Gavrikov has a nose for. If he sees a soft spot in the zone, he will try to exploit it and provide an option for his teammates.
While this may not be something Blue Jackets fans see right away, once Gavrikov is able to get his feet wet and feel comfortable on the smaller ice surface, he will be more than just a big defensive defenseman.
Highlight of the Campaign
Gavrikov joins a crowded group of young defenseman, the oldest member of the defensive corps is Savard at 28, and will need to earn NHL minutes in training camp and preseason if he wants to start the year in Columbus.
He may begin his North American career in the AHL with the Cleveland Monsters due to being waiver exempt, barring any injures that may occur on the blue line during camp, but will have opportunities to make the coaching staff keep him for the season.
We will know a lot more about the big Russian after a few more games in North America, but he looked solid in his two playoff games and if he continues on that trajectory then the future is bright for him and the Blue Jackets.