The last two teams on our list are rumored to be in on nearly every big name available, whether it’s a forward or a defenseman. And with good reason, both of them are looking to win the Stanley Cup this year, and both of them look capable of doing just that.
The Bruins went out at last year’s deadline and acquired pending UFA Hampus Lindholm, who they liked so much that they signed him to an 8-year extension after the season. Could they repeat history with Gavrikov?
Why not? He’s one year younger than Lindholm, and the two play a similar style. The only real difference here is that Vlad doesn’t have quite the same upside offensively, which means the return won’t be quite as significant. The Bruins have one of the oldest cores in the league, but are running away with the President’s Trophy already, and could look to add some size and depth to their back end.
They could then sign Vlad long-term in the offseason and have him as a core piece to their back-end for years to come. Really, this deal makes a lot of sense for Boston and I would not be surprised to see them make it happen. The other Atlantic Division team in this discussion is in a slightly different situation, with the main part of their core being a lot younger … but they are desperate for some playoff success:
The Problem for the Leafs here: if they trade their first round pick this season, they might only have three picks in the rest of the draft. They own two third round picks, but Arizona has the option to take one of them. And, they’ve already traded their 2024 third rounder, which means that if they want Gavrikov, they’ll have to either trade this year’s other third, or make their second piece a second round pick next season. I don’t think a first and fourth is enough to pry Vlad away.
So the Jackets throw in an extra pick next summer, and get two high picks in return for Gavrikov, which does help ease the pain of trading away their beloved defenseman. This kind of in-zone defender who can take up time and space is exactly the kind of player the Leafs need to put them over the top, especially since they’re already pretty much assured another first round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the end, I think Gavrikov’s value to the Jackets might be a lot more than a lot of people realize, and I would not be surprised to see the two come to terms rather than making a deal. The Ducks moving Lindholm last year should serve as a warning: look at how many goals they’ve given up this season without him.
The problem with trading away viable top-four defenseman is that, once you trade them, you need to go right back out and find another one. They aren’t very readily available, and as this article will prove, when they are available, they do not come cheap. It will be really interesting to follow this story as the deadline approaches.