The Boston Bruins are inching closer and closer to acquiring Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, according to the latest reports.
The newest update came Tuesday afternoon via David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, who reported that the Bruins and Blue Jackets have the "framework" of a deal in place, although more work is required by Boston to clear enough salary cap space to allow the trade to happen.
Gavrikov has been linked to the Bruins in several rumors over the last few weeks. Boston reportedly has been aiming to add a left-shot defenseman to the mix. A first-round pick and a third-round pick is a very steep price for a player who is arguably better than only one or maybe two of the Bruins' top-six defensemen. Gavrikov could end up being the Bruins' sixth or seventh defenseman.
The 27-year-old veteran is not much of an offensive player. He has tallied 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 52 games this season. He's best used as a defensive defenseman who eats up 20-plus minutes per game, kills penalties and blocks shots.
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Gavrikov has been Columbus' No. 1 defenseman for large stretches of the season due to Zach Werenski appearing in just 13 games because of injury. Gavrikov leads the Blue Jackets at 22:10 of ice time per game, and he ranks fifth in the league in shorthanded time on ice per game (3:31). If the Bruins acquire him, he could take penalty kill minutes away from players such as Hampus Lindholm and Derek Forbort in an effort to keep them as fresh as possible for the playoffs.
Gavrikov, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, is a tough player who isn't afraid to put his body on the line to block shots (89 in 52 games) or win a puck battle in front of the net or along the boards. He's not going to play a super bruising style or dish out massive hits, but he's a big body who can take punishment in the dirty areas of the ice.
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The Russian defenseman's skill set is better suited than Matt Grzelcyk's against some of the more physical, aggressive forechecking teams. Grzelcyk is a better fit versus the skilled, high-scoring teams that play with great pace.
The Bruins have been hurt by a lack of blue line depth in recent playoff runs, and if Gavrikov joins the fold, Boston would have a ton of different options on the back end for head coach Jim Montgomery to choose from.