Vladislav Gavrikov Is A Long Term Answer On Defense For The Blue Jackets

By Coby Maeir on May 13, 2022 at 10:15 am
Vladislav Gavrikov
Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports

Vladislav Gavrikov just finished arguably his best season in the NHL.

He played 80 games, played 22:17 a night, and ranked third on the team in hits with 124 and second in blocked shots with 138. He also chipped in offensively, something that most people did not expect. He scored five goals and posted career-highs in both assists with 28 and points with 33, which ranked eighth on the team.

Entering a Contract Year

This past season was the second of a three-year contract at a cap hit of $2.8MM that Gavrikov signed before the 2020-21 season. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season, so next year is a massive year for him. If next year is anything like this past season was for him, it should be a good year that will see him well-deserving of a pay raise. Capfriendly.com shows that the Jackets have over $40MM in cap space for the 2023-24 season. That does not include the potential Patrik Laine extension or any other changes that could be made, but if Gavrikov continues to grow the Jackets should allot at least $4MM-$5MM per year in a potential extension.

Individual Effort

While the Jackets set a franchise record for goals allowed and they will have to improve defensively to make the playoffs, Gavrikov still displayed why he should be a part of the future of the team. According to naturalstattrick.com, his expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 5v5 was 44.57, which means that 44.57% of the expected goals scored while he's on the ice are for his team. For reference, Nashville Predators defenseman and Norris Trophy finalist Roman Josi has an xGF% of 51.59.

Stats aside, Gavrikov was pleased with his performance this season.

"I made a step on the ice and off the ice as well," he said at the end of the year media availability. 

Yes, the Jackets struggled defensively this season, but it is not the fault of any single individual, and if it was, it would not be Gavrikov.

The Future

Gavrikov is scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2023, but the Jackets should try to keep him long-term. At 26 years old, He fits right in as the second pair left defenseman of the future. A defense core of Zach Werenski, Andrew Peeke, Gavrikov, Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, and Nick Blankenburg, all under the age of 26, is something that should excite both fans and the organization. 

Whether Gavrikov will be a Jacket for the long run is yet to be determined, but he made his case to be a part of that future. 

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