A few weeks back, I wrote a profile about a shining offensive player for the Jackets this season: Nathan Gerbe. Given the recent loss of Seth Jones to a fractured and now surgically repaired ankle, I thought I’d swing my focus back to our blue line and take a look at the players who are going to have to step up and fill Seth’s big skates if this team wants a chance to compete in this season’s playoffs.
Despite this being his first season in the NHL, 2015 Blue Jackets draftee Gavrikov never skipped a beat. A native of Yaroslavl, Russia, Gavrikov played for his Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team and for Russia for the four years prior to his NHL debut. Gavrikov’s transition to the NHL level appeared to be a seamless one - if he was struggling, he never showed it in either level of play or in his demeanor, which seems to always be jovial.
Gavrikov exudes a level of maturity and poise that is REALLY freaky when I consider that he is exactly two weeks younger than me. His physical presence seems to take up more than 6’3 and 213 pounds - in fact, Tortorella recently said the most amazing quote about Gavrikov’s level of play:
Great John Tortorella quote on Vladislav Gavrikov: "If he gets his tentacles (on you), he's like an octopus. If he gets you, it's tough to get away from him. He's all arms and he's strong and he's ugly as sin at times, but he doesn't get beat." #CBJ— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) February 12, 2020
Zach Werenski and Seth Jones get a lot of credit as the star D-line for the Jackets, but I can tell you I’ve never once been worried with Gavrikov and David Savard out there.
With 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) this season, Gavrikov makes solid offensive contributions without sacrificing penalties - a mere 18 minutes in the penalty box across 58 games played this season. He also has a knack for applying the gas when the Jackets need him most - his perfect feed to Gerbe the other night in Buffalo led to a goal, and earlier this February he handily put the first goal on the board in Montreal.
Short side, right in. Vladislav Gavrikov had eyes on it. pic.twitter.com/JWWhFxLBQL— NHL (@NHL) February 2, 2020
And, if Nationwide Arena ever incorporates player-specific goal celebration songs into their repertoire, Gavrikov already has the perfect song picked out, as shared to Alison Lukan with The Athletic: What is Love? By Haddaway.
Why? Well, here’s why, according to Gavrikov:
““It’s because when you sing ‘what is love?’ it sounds like ‘Vlad-i-slav!’” Gavrikov says without missing a beat.”
Also, this unforgettable gem - Gavrikov was impatiently waiting for Elvis to wrap up his post-game interviews after a big win in Vegas in early January:
Elvis’ postgame media huddle was lagging on a bit too long for Vladislav Gavrikov (off screen), who opened a nearby door and said something to the king of the night in Russian.— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 12, 2020
What did he say?
Elvis will tell you ... #CBJ pic.twitter.com/aNWqaea7XZ
Anyways, Gavrikov has been an absolutely delightful addition to this roster - and a solid, reliable player in a season so punctuated by injuries. He is having a great debut year and his stock will only continue to rise. Between his tenacity and fearlessness on the ice, plus his thoughtful, wholesome insights during interviews, and with his mischievous smile and happy demeanor, he’s a huge asset to the organization.
This is a good tweet to put it all into perspective, even though it’s forgetting Pierre-Luc Dubois and Emil Bemstrom:
Liam Foudy: 20 Years old— Jase Green (@JGreenberg11) February 11, 2020
Alexandre Texier: 20 Years old
Zach Werenski: 22 Years old
Vladislav Gavrikov: 24 Years old
Oliver Bjorkstrand: 24 Years old
Eric Robinson: 24 Years old
Elvis Merzlikins: 25 Years old
Seth Jones: 25 Years old
This team is going to be fun for years #CBJ
Seriously, watch him when he interacts with his teammates, coaches, whoever - the person he’s talking to is always smiling because of Gav.