Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

It’s rumor season, and to the shock of absolutely nobody who’s paid attention to Don Sweeney’s history as Boston’s general manager, the NHL-best Bruins are poking around in search of some potential upgrades.

And with the trade deadline officially just two weeks away, the rumors are linking the Bruins to some potential help on defense, and with the Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov reportedly emerging as one of their top targets.

In fact, sources have told DailyFaceoff’s Frank Seravalli that the B’s, while not alone, are currently considered the ‘favorites’ to land the Columbus defenseman.

  • (Click here to subscribe to the Sports Hub Underground podcast.)

  • A 6-foot-3, left-shot defenseman, Gavrikov is on the market in the midst of a season that’s come with three goals and 10 points, along with 56 hits and 89 blocked shots, through 52 games.

    Gavrikov, a pending unrestricted free agent, is also averaging a career-high 22:20 of time on ice per game, and has recently been scratched from the Columbus lineup due to “trade-related reasons.”

    Prior to his scratching, Gavrikov was one of just three members of a battered Columbus defensive grouping to appear in almost every game this season, with just one absence prior to his trade-related scratchings.

    Gavrikov is also coming off a 2021-22 season that featured a career-high five goals and 33 points for the Jackets.

  • Dec 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) controls the puck ahead of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (4) during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) controls the puck ahead of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (4) during the third period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

  • A stay-at-home type (but with some noteworthy mobility and puck-playing abilities), Gavrikov has logged a staggering 182:16 of shorthanded time on ice this season. That’s the third-most among all NHL defensemen this season, trailing only the Stars’ PK one-two punch of Jani Hakanpaa (200:48) and Esa Lindell (215:42).

    One of 24 defensemen to log at least 150 minutes of shorthanded time on ice this season, Gavrikov ranks 11th in expected goals against per 60, 10th in scoring chances against per 60, and eighth in high-danger scoring chances against per 60. And among that group of 24, Gavrikov ranks 12th in shots blocked per 60, at 9.22.

    Gavrikov’s own-zone acumen has extended beyond the penalty kill, as the Blue Jackets have put the Russian defenseman out there for a heavy 359 defensive-zone faceoffs. That’s the second-most among all Blue Jacket skaters, and his 37.35 percent offensive-zone faceoff percentage is the lowest among all Columbus defenders.

    With deployment like that, it’s perhaps downright amazing that Gavrikov is a mere minus-8 on a team that’s a collective minus-68 (second-worst in the NHL) and ‘boasts’ the league’s ninth-worst save percentage (.893).

  • Apr 2, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (44) battle for the puck during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 2, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (44) battle for the puck during the first period. (Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)

  • With three left-shot defensemen on the nightly roster — and with a left-shot Jakub Zboril currently the team’s No. 7 defenseman — acquiring Gavrikov would push someone out of a job.

    That obviously wouldn’t be Hampus Lindholm, who is in the midst of the best season of his career, making Gavrikov a potential minute-challenger to either Matt Grzelcyk or Derek Forbort.

    Forbort’s usage this season has almost mirrored that of Gavrikov in Columbus, but there’s absolutely no reason for the Bruins to take Forbort out of their lineup right now. He’s been a penalty-killing rock for the team this season, with Forbort on the ice for 4.29 power-play goals against per 60, which is the second-lowest rate among penalty killers with at least 130 shorthanded minutes this season.

    Grzelcyk, meanwhile, is currently playing some of the best hockey of his career, and has 11 points and a plus-20 rating over his last 18 games played. Grzelcyk’s plus-34 rating is also the second-best figure in the NHL.

    And though there’s the concern of Grzelcyk getting ‘targeted’ and ‘worn down’ in the playoffs, it is worth noting that the tweaks the Bruins have made made to their defensive system and structure limit the punishment that the Bruins take in their own zone.

    Unless the Bruins plan on moving Gavrikov to his off side, which would bump Connor Clifton (another defenseman playing the best hockey of his career) out of action, there’s not exactly a clear opening for him.

    That’s an issue, if only because of the Jackets’ current asking price on the 27-year-old.

  • Nov 10, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (4) in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 10, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (4) in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nationwide Arena. (Gaelen Morse/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Word on the street is that the Blue Jackets are seeking a return comparable to the one they got for David Savard back in 2021. That netted the Blue Jackets a first-round pick, a third-round pick, and a fourth-round pick.

    Keep in mind that the Bruins do not have a second-round pick in each of the next two seasons, so trading those three picks could quite literally leave the Bruins without a pick in the first four rounds of the 2023 NHL Draft. Even if you spread it out over multiple years, that’s a lot of draft capital out the window, and at a position that may not be of great need just yet, and for a player who does not have term beyond this season.

    For a team that may only have the space to make one move, that might not be the play.

    Especially if the bidding war turns into a true bidding war given the list of potential suitors reported by multiple outlets, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

  • “I think the teams that we’re talking about here are Boston [and] I think potentially Toronto, though I think the Maple Leafs are looking at a forward,” Friedman said during a spot on the NHL Network earlier this week. “I think L.A. has some interest particularly if they don’t get [Jakob] Chychrun done, but I think the hangup with L.A. is that I think L.A. wants him done before they trade for him. L.A. wants guys with term, and I think there’s probably a couple of other teams out there too. Edmonton, I think was in on Gavrikov, I’m not convinced they’re still there.

    “Those were the big three or four big teams I was looking at [but] I always assume there’s two or three teams there I’m not thinking about.”

    Point blank, those teams mentioned by Friedman may have more desperation to get a deal for Gavrikov done given where they are in the standings compared to the Bruins, and they may have more assets than the Bruins. Or, at the very least, more assets they’re willing to part with to get a deal done.

    But there’s plenty of time for bartering between now and the Mar. 3 deadline.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.