Part 2, Insiders!
Yesterday was Part 1. We all knew it was Part 1 and it’s been widely reported what was coming next. Tuesday’s trade saw the Kings move out salaries to clear cap space for moves to come. They had to pay future assets to do so, but when you look at the move through a longer lens, the cost was really not all that much. The next step in that process comes today, as the Kings announced that they have signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year contract extension, carrying an AAV of $5.875 million through the 2024-25 season. Per CapFriendly, the contract also includes a full no movement clause in both seasons.
Gavrikov joined the Kings at the trade deadline and logged 20 regular-season games, on top of six games in the postseason. He produced offensively at nearly a half point-per-game pace, as he collected three goals and six assists from those 20 games, in addition to an assist and a +5 rating in the postseason. Gavrikov’s metrics were among the team’s best, especially when looking at the more dangerous areas of the ice, as he stepped right into the lineup and contributed.
First, sharing a quote from Todd McLellan regarding Gavrikov’s arrival and fit.
“Since the day he arrived, he walked in the door – him and Korpisalo walked in the door – and they fit our group,” Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “There’s always risk in acquiring players at the deadline where it doesn’t work simply because of that. So, when they walked in their spirit and the way they carried themselves fit our group, so that was a home run right off the bat. Then his play, from the time that he put the equipment on all the way through, he adapted really quick to a different system and to new teammates……he was very, very solid all the way through the last minute [of Game 6].”
Gavrikov was a good fit for the Kings from Day 1. Today proves that Gavrikov feels the Kings were a good fit for him as well. Gavrikov slid into the Top 4 on the backend from his second game with the Kings on, forming a formidable duo with defenseman Matt Roy to cement the team’s top four on the blueline. Off the ice, several teammates talked about how strong a fit he was with the group. While they were not a pairing for all that long, considering the fact that Gavrikov was a deadline acquisition, the Gavrikov/Roy duo placed inside the Top 5 in the NHL in percentage of high-danger chances and scoring chances controlled when on the ice. They also controlled 80 percent of the goals scored when on the ice together in the regular season. A 20-game sample size is not reliable, sure, but it was damn good when together.
As a whole, Gavrikov proved to be a high-level defender in all areas of the ice. Gavrikov led the NHL this season in neutral-zone stick checks, a good example of an elite defender contributing beyond just the defensive zone. Look no further than Game 1 versus Edmonton as an example of his defensive ability, as he sprung Adrian Kempe for the team’s first goal of the series, following an expertly defended 2-on-1 rush against. Gavrikov came to Los Angeles with a nickname – “the octopus” – which turned out to be pretty indicative of his reach when defending. In the playoffs, Gavrikov was on the ice for just three goals against at even strength (compared to seven for), despite starting barely over 40 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. The Kings have now locked in that level of defender for two more years.
It also should be pointed out that while losing a deadline acquisition to free agency is not necessarily a loss, keeping Gavrikov for what would amount to three playoff pushes swings the pendulum more than considering the draft pick given up to initially acquire him. The Kings were in a win-now mode at the deadline, with a willingness to give up a first-round pick in order to acquire Gavrikov. Locking him in for two additional seasons validates the deal more so than it already did. Trades are as much about finding the right player as the best player and the Kings seemed to find the right player in Gavrikov.
If you look at the transactions over the last two days as one move, the Kings essentially come out dead-even in terms of salary cap space.
The Kings moved out $7,650,000 in salaries between Cal Petersen and Sean Walker. With Gavrikov re-signed at a cap hit of $5,875,000, combined with $2,025,000 retained on Ivan Provorov’s contract, the Kings took on $7,900,000 in cap hits, while filling the final hole in their Top 4 on the backend. The Kings did take on the contracts of two additional players who could factor in at the NHL level in Hayden Hodgson and Kevin Connauton, but with smaller cap hits, those two players would come at the same rate, or less, as the players they would be replacing. Therefore, no real added cap hit. The total sum of all of these moves winds up being just a small sum of $250,000 in added cap hit, just with an open position now at goaltender instead of left-sided defenseman.
All in all, a tidy two days for the LA Kings with a cleaner outlook, and fewer questions, moving forward.
From the team’s official release –
Gavrikov, 27, appeared in 72 regular-season games last year with the Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets, posting 19 points (6-13=19), 38 penalty minutes (PIM) and a career best plus-four rating while averaging 21:58 time-on-ice per game (TOI). In six Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Kings, the 6-3, 220-pound defenseman added an assist and a team-leading plus-five rating while averaging 21:38 TOI, third-most among team defensemen.
Acquired from Columbus along with goaltender Joonas Korpisalo in exchange for Jonathan Quick, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick, Gavrikov played in 20 regular-season games with the Kings, earning nine points (3-6=9). During that time, Gavrikov led Kings defensemen in plus/minus (plus-12), tied for the lead in takeaways by a defenseman (8), ranked second on the blue line in TOI (21:01) and shorthanded TOI (1:59), and finished third amongst team blueliners in blocked shots (26).
Originally selected by Columbus in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Gavrikov has registered 82 points (18-64=82), 138 PIMs and 20:48 TOI over 276 regular-season games with the Kings and Blue Jackets. Additionally, in 18 playoff appearances, including six with the Kings, Gavrikov has tallied four points (1-3=4).
Prior to joining the NHL, the Yaroslavl, Russia native spent parts of five seasons (2014-19) in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with SKA St. Petersburg and his hometown Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. A KHL All-Star Game participant in 2018-19, Gavrikov skated in 222 regular-season KHL games, recording 49 points (16-33=49), 96 PIM and a plus-97 rating while also adding 12 points (4-8=12) in 57 KHL playoff games.
Internationally, Gavrikov won an Olympic gold medal with the Olympic Athletes of Russia in 2018, where he posted three points (2-1=3) in six tournament games. He has also appeared in six IIHF tournaments, including four IIHF Men’s World Championships (2021, 2019 – bronze, 2018, 2017 – bronze), one IIHF World Junior Championship (2015 – silver) and one IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship (2013). At the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, Gavrikov was tabbed the tournament’s best defenseman after guiding Russia to a silver-medal finish.