Saturday: The Blue Jackets announced that they have signed Gavrikov to a two-year, entry-level deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch notes that the Russian embassy is closed for the weekend which could potentially delay Gavrikov’s arrival.
Friday: Following teammate Nikita Gusev, who is expected to sign with the Vegas Golden Knights soon, it seems KHL defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov’s move to the NHL is imminent. KHL insider Igor Eronko reports that Gavrikov is expected to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the coming days. As a draft pick of the Blue Jackets, Gavrikov was on the team’s reserve list at the trade deadline and is thus eligible to play in the postseason immediately.
With the announcement from SKA St. Petersburg that they had granted both Gusev and Gavrikov permission to sign in the NHL prior to their KHL contracts expiring at the end of the month, both players are now free to join their NHL clubs. Gavrikov, 23, may not be as big a name as Gusev, but he would be a meaningful addition for Columbus. The big, stable defenseman plays a defense-first style but can also pack an offensive punch. At 6’3″, 205 lbs., Gavrikov led SKA in plus/minus by a significant margin at +48, but registered a career-high 20 points this season as well.
A physical presence with puck-moving ability and years of pro experience, Gavrikov should step in and be a difference-maker right away for the Blue Jackets. Obviously, Columbus is a playoff team with a capable blue line as is, but one of their greatest weaknesses is their bottom pair. Even without any games played in the NHL, it would not be a surprise to see Gavrikov get the nod over a Dean Kukan or Scott Harrington or Adam Clendening. With Columbus off to a surprisingly hot start in their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, this would be another unexpected plus for a team in search of a major upset.