Columbus Blue Jackets Prospect Vladislav Gavrikov Makes Olympic Team

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 02: Vladislav Gavrikov
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 02: Vladislav Gavrikov /
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The 2015 6th round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets is heading to South Korea for the Olympic Games.

One of the true mysteries of the Columbus Blue Jackets farm system, Vladislav Gavrikov, is heading to the Olympic Games. He will play for the “Organized Athletes of Russia” as the Russian Federation is banned from the Olympics.

Gavrikov is not a mystery because of his talent level. The guy can absolutely play. He has had a stellar year with SKA St. Petersberg with 14 points in 49 games and a +20 rating. Gavrikov has played for the Russians on a plethora of international tournaments over the years and is a standout for their program.

So much so that Gavrikov would have likely made the Russian team even if NHLers were allowed to participate. Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic included Gavrikov in his “What if” roster of Russians that would be invited if NHLers were headed to South Korea.

Instead of being the 7th defenseman on the team Gavrikov will be relied upon to eat up big minutes and produce for the OAR team.

Vladislav Gavrikov is a mystery because we don’t know if he will ever come over to North America and play for the Columbus Blue Jackets. This offseason the CBJ made a big push to get Gavrikov to Columbus but he decided to head to St. Petersberg and play for the dominate SKA squad. He signed a two year contract with the KHL dynamo.

Related Story: CBJ Lose Gavrikov to KHL

Olympic Pressure

When Gavrikov was originally signed to SKA there was a ton of talk, even from Gavrikov, about how much participating in the Olympics played into his decision. In the press release announcing his signing, Gavrikov was even quoted saying,

"I decided to stay in Russia, here I have a great opportunity to play and grow as a hockey player. I have a great desire to play in the national team, to prove myself in the club under the guidance of Oleg Znarka, to get an opportunity to speak at the Olympic Games."

Playing for his home country was clearly important to the 22-year-old defenseman. That wasn’t going to be an option for him if he came to the NHL.

Gavrikov has the talent and ability to be a top four shutdown defenseman in the NHL. With the injury concerns around Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson‘s trade request, the Columbus Blue Jackets could use a guy like Gavrikov now more than ever.

Next: Dubinsky Dilema

He still has a year left on his contract in the KHL after this season but all signs point towards him wanting to play in the NHL in the future. The Olympics ensured that time wouldn’t come this year for Vladislav. Columbus Blue Jackets fans will at least get to see one of their teams players in the Olympics this year.