NHL Rumors: Blue Jackets Looking To Lock Up Defenseman Long-Term

The Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to continue to build their team up and be competitive for years to come. With Johnny Gaudreau signing there long-term and Patrik Laine committing to the team, it appears as though Columbus is becoming a more desired location to come to and stay. With that, the Blue Jackets are trying to lock up Vladislav Gavrikov long-term, per Aaron Portzline.

Gavrikov was drafted in the sixth round by the Blue Jackets in 2015 and has turned into a solid second pairing defenseman. He is currently the third-highest paid defenseman on the team and has one year left at $2.8 million. He is in line for a raise, but the team also has to be careful and manage their assets properly. They just overpaid for Erik Gudbranson and signed him for four years while Jake Bean is playing on the third pair and can play either side. Right now there either isn't room for him in the top-four or someone who will be paid more will have to be bumped down.

Gavrikov had himself a good year in his third season in the NHL, really taking a step forward. His ice time not only went up by nearly three minutes on average, he has also turned into a force in his own end blocking shots and being very physical. As the Blue Jackets have Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, and Bean who are skilled defenders, Gavrikov has what they are all lacking and is a strong shutdown option for the team. Now that the Blue Jackets have two similar players likely playing on the second pair together, the team has a legitimate shutdown pairing.

Photo credit: © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports