Not to be outdone by the other Metropolitan Division teams that have been going after KHL talent, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the Blue Jackets have offered a contract to Vladislav Gavrikov. The former sixth-round pick has now played two full seasons in the KHL, and is believed to have an NHL future should he decide to come over to North America. Portzline adds that agent Dan Milstein of Gold Star will meet Gavrikov at the World Championships to discuss the offer in person.
Despite being just 20 when this season started (he has since turned 21), Gavrikov saw his icetime increase to over 18 minutes a night on his hometown Yaroslavl team and was named the top defenseman in the league for March. His development in his own end has been steady, though he still hasn’t flashed much offensive prowess. In 54 games this season he registered just seven points.
If Columbus can get him to make the trip across the pond, Portzline opines that Ryan Murray may be on the move out of town. The former second-overall pick has become somewhat redundant since the successful debuts of both Zach Werenski and Gabriel Carlsson, but retains his tremendous trade value. Should the team move on from Murray, they could likely get a king’s ransom for the 23-year old defender. This season saw Murray’s point totals drop to just 11 through 60 games, mostly because he skated very rarely on the powerplay.
Should another team come calling, the Blue Jackets are in the enviable position of having a stockpile of young defenders still coming, including Gavrikov, Ryan Collins and NCAA draft pick Andrew Peeke. They could move on from Murray and still have one of the deepest groups in the league, and signing Gavrikov would make it even deeper.