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A trade for the Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov could bolster the Bruins defense if the price for Jakob Chychrun stays too high

Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov played his first NHL game against the Bruins in the 2019 playoffs.Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov doesn’t score much, but he does have a favorite goal celebration.

He pulls out an invisible phone and pretends to make a call.

As NHL general managers do, the Bruins’ Don Sweeney regularly dials his colleagues around the league to check prices on potential trade targets. He has, multiple sources told the Globe, asked about Gavrikov ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.

The possibility of Sweeney and Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen connecting on a deal was given national TV airtime in Canada on Saturday night by Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman, who also noted the Bruins’ ongoing interest in Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun, a much better left-shot defenseman with a much higher acquisition cost.


Arizona has been asking for a package of assets — a first-round pick, a good young player, and a high-end prospect — for its top blue liner, who is signed for two more years at a cost-effective $4.6 million per. Gavrikov, an unrestricted free agent this summer making $2.8 million, could cost a draft pick.

Gavrikov has been scratched the last three games as management works on a deal. Longtime Columbus reporter Aaron Portzline, of The Athletic, wrote that “it’s believed the Jackets have a trade in place that requires another transaction to take place first.”

Could Vladislav Gavrikov fit in Boston?Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

The Bruins, a source told the Globe, did not have a deal for Gavrikov in place as of Sunday afternoon. But he is a target to supplement a league-best (42-8-5) roster. The Bruins would like to add him without surrendering a first-round pick.

Some background on him:

In his fourth full year in Columbus, Gavrikov, 27, was expected to be a second-pair defender. Instead, he has been the de facto No. 1 for a team that lost star Zach Werenski to injury in November. He leads the Jackets in ice time (22:20) and averages 3:31 on the penalty kill (fifth-highest in the league).


If dealt to Boston, he would serve as injury insurance, and matchup flexibility, for the postseason. Because of injuries, Matt Grzelcyk missed two games in last year’s postseason against Carolina, and four in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final against St. Louis.

At present, the next defensemen up would be Jakub Zboril and Mike Reilly. Since November, Zboril has played in one NHL game despite practicing with the varsity. Reilly has been in Providence.

If activated, the 6-foot-3-inch, 214-pound Gavrikov could reduce the workload of Derek Forbort (team-high 3:12), or greatly reduce Hampus Lindholm’s PK duties (2:13). He could help in the defensive zone by tying up bodies and sticks, winning board battles, and blocking shots.

On a per-minute basis, Gavrikov ranks near the bottom of the league in shot attempts, and near the top in shots blocked. On the penalty kill, he has one more block (28) than Forbort. A minor note: He has drawn three penalties on the PK, second-most among defensemen.

Not relied on for offense, Gavrikov has a 3-7–10 line in 52 games. He scored overtime winners against Philadelphia and Vancouver early in the season, both times getting to the right spot to finish odd-man rushes.

Last year, he had a career-high in points (5-28–33), with the bulk of his production coming on secondary assists and fortunate bounces. He had a two-goal game against the Islanders, both times charging in and banging home rebounds. He scored against Jeremy Swayman in the same manner.


Drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2015 (sixth round, 159th overall), the Yaroslavl, Russia, product arrived stateside in the spring of 2019 after playing five seasons in the KHL. He was one of the Russian Olympic athletes who won gold at the 2018 Games, and also played for his country at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships.

His first NHL game came at TD Garden, dressing as a seventh defenseman in Game 5 of the 2019 second round against the Bruins. He was on the ice for two David Pastrnak goals, including the winner with 1:28 left.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 214-pound Gavrikov could help bolster the Boston blueline.Steph Chambers/Getty

In a clinching Game 6, David Krejci hammered a one-timer by the rookie defenseman for the opening goal. Gavrikov later followed then-captain Nick Foligno in the handshake line as the Bruins headed to the Eastern Conference Final.

Gavrikov has played in 12 playoff games (1-2–3), all of them against the Atlantic Division. He faced Toronto (first-round win) and Tampa (second-round loss) in the 2020 bubble. The Bruins could meet either one of those teams in the second round.

In Columbus, Gavrikov switched his jersey to No. 4 this season. That Bruins sweater has been in the rafters for the last 43 years, but Gavrikov’s old No. 44 is available.

If the price is right, perhaps the Bruins’ coaching staff could make Gavrikov a project. But given his pending UFA status and the number of defensemen on one-way contracts beyond this season (seven), he might merely be a rental.


Insurance could be just a phone call away.

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.