The Edmonton Oilers haven’t been able to stop many teams this season, allowing goals at an alarming pace for a club that started the year with plans to contend for the Stanley Cup. After three straight 4-3 losses, their search for defensemen has hit the hot stove once again. In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 32 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, the insider reports that Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is on the Oilers’ radar.
Gavrikov, 27, is likely to draw interest from a number of teams as he continues to play solid (if unspectacular) defense for the Blue Jackets. The sixth-round pick has nine points in 32 games this season while averaging over 22 minutes a night and brings a size/mobility combination that is very desirable for contenders at the deadline. Friedman even notes the prices of David Savard and Ben Chiarot in recent years as an indication of what it might cost to acquire Gavrikov.
In 2021, the Blue Jackets sent Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a three-way deal that included the Detroit Red Wings for the cost of a first-, third- and fourth-round pick. The double salary retention involved dropped Savard’s cap hit to just over $1M, allowing him to fit into the eventual Stanley Cup champions’ tight budget. Gavrikov, who currently carries a $2.8M cap hit, could actually get even lower than that if the same middle-man structure were to take place.
Chiarot landed a similar package from the Florida Panthers last year, as the Montreal Canadiens received first- and fourth-round picks along with the rights to recent third-round prospect Ty Smilanic. The Canadiens retained half of Chiarot’s deal, taking his cap hit down to $1.75M for the Panthers.
It should be noted that while the Lightning did win a Stanley Cup, neither one of these trades really worked out all that well for the acquiring team. Savard did very little on Tampa Bay’s run, dressing for 20 of the 23 games but averaging just over 14 minutes a night. Chiarot’s Panthers were swept in the second round while he was averaging just 17 minutes a night. Neither player re-signed with the acquiring team.
Gavrikov, like Savard and Chiarot, is a pending unrestricted free agent that will likely be after a multi-year deal on the open market – one that should increase his cap hit significantly. Though he isn’t a star, he has shown the ability to play big minutes against top players and is a bargain at his current $2.8M hit.