Photo: 1st Ohio Battery
In our latest post that identify players that could be potential acquisition targets for the Washington Capitals this offseason, we’re going to take a look at pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who is currently playing for the Los Angeles Kings after getting acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 28. With Washington looking at reshaping and retooling their roster for the 2023-24 season, making a move on the blueline could be in the works.
The statistics and salary cap information used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, CapFriendly, Dobber Sports, and Evolving Hockey. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.
With Martin Fehervary, who has posted a -8 rating, 47.84% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, 47.98% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 48.41% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage, struggling, Washington could use more depth in front of him. Rasmus Sandin is also a more offensive minded defenseman so Gavrikov would bring more of a defensive, snarly blueliner on the left side.
Washington currently is in the middle of the pack with a 3.08 goals-against per game average and after trading Dmitry Orlov in February, the team could use another defenseman.
The 27-year-old was taken 159th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by Columbus but did not make his NHL debut until the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Gavrikov has tallied no more than 18 points in his four NHL seasons besides 2021-22, when he notched 33 (including five goals) in 80 games.
In 269 career regular-season games with Columbus and Los Angeles, Gavrikov has tallied 16 goals, 78 points, and a -15 rating. He has one goal, three points, and a -6 rating in 10 career postseason appearances.
With Los Angeles already having Sean Walker, Sean Durzi, and Mikey Anderson (who just signed an eight-year extension) under contract for next season on the left side of defense, there will unlikely be any room on the roster for Gavrikov after this campaign.
Five-on-Five On-Ice Performance
Here’s Gavrikov’s performance in possession metrics during five-on-five play this season:
- 47.61% Corsi-for percentage (56.33% in 13 games with Los Angeles)
- 48.72% expected goals-for percentage (65.69%)
- 48.53% scoring chances-for percentage (59.57%)
- 49.37% shots-for percentage (64.34%)
- 44.83% goals-for percentage (81.82%)
While Gavrikov’s underlying stats do not appeal to the eye very well at first glance, he has thrived since getting traded by Columbus, who has the second-worst points percentage (.365) and goal-differential (-94) in the NHL this season.
Getting traded to a Stanley Cup contender like Los Angeles has definitely helped Gavrikov but he has outperformed his team’s averages in Corsi-for percentage (54.2%), expected goals-for percentage (56.83%), scoring chances-for percentage (54.56%), shots-for percentage (58.52%), and goals-for percentage (66.67%) at five-on-five after the day he was dealt.
Since the deal, Gavrikov has been paired with Matt Roy and the two have combined for a 72.7% expected goals-for percentage and 1.57 expected goals-against-per-60 minutes in 183:12 of ice-time together five-on-five.
51.67% of Gavrikov’s zone starts with Los Angeles have come in the offensive one (up from 32.16% with Columbus this season). He finished with an offensive zone start percentage of below 35% in each of his final three seasons in Columbus. The increase of deployment in the offensive zone has appeared to refresh Gavrikov.
Both of Gavrikov’s expected and actual goals-for percentages at five-on-five with Los Angeles are very high and while his actual one is over 16% than his expected rate, an expected ratio of 65% is still excellent.
Gavrikov’s five-on-five chance generation performance this season:
- 47.45% high-danger Corsi-for percentage (66% with Los Angeles)
- 36.17% high-danger goals-for percentage (83.33%)
Gavrikov has thrived since moving out West and while it is a small sample with one of the NHL’s best teams, he has done his part and played a big role in Los Angeles’ jump into a powerhouse.
Rate-Adjusted Plus Minus (RAPM)
Rate-Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) is an efficient way to measure a player’s performance in relation to the league, and in relation to replacement level. Here is Gavrikov’s RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey:
Data: Evolving Hockey
The chart shows Gavrikov as a low-event type of player, which is pretty good having spent most of this season in Columbus. All of his rates in the first chart above are close to neutral and it could be hard to make up ground in just a few weeks on a new, let alone top team. The statistics shown previously with Los Angeles demonstrates that putting too much emphasis into this chart may be foolish.
Gavrikov has averaged 21:57 per game (47th among NHL defensemen), including 24 seconds on the power play and 3:10 on the penalty kill (tied for eighth). His presence could further boost a Washington penalty killing unit that already ranks sixth with an 82.7% efficiency. Gavrikov could see time on the first unit with Jensen.
To highlight how Gavrikov’s performance, here is each of his teams’ RAPM charts:
Graphs: Evolving Hockey
Given how much of a mess Columbus’ defensive, penalty-kill, and overall numbers appear, having low-event statistics are pretty solid for a time-munching defenseman like Gavrikov. His time with Columbus is factored in so we don’t have a visual comparison to his stats in Los Angeles but the statistics listed before show encouragement about the way his game is trending.
Gavrikov could slide in next to either Carlson to be the shut down defenseman with one of the NHL’s best offensive blueliners or Jensen to team up as a shutdown pairing. Fehervary and Carlson have not meshed with each other great as the two have combined for a 39.65% expected goals-for percentage in 109:23 as a pair at five-on-five this season. Jensen and Fehervary have a fine 50.09% expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five in 493:04 together this season but perhaps there is more to desire. Gavrikov could slide into either of those spots and the team could see what works best.
Gavrikov would take some pressure off of Fehervary and make up for some of Carlson’s defensive deficiencies if deployed with Carlson.
Washington currently has $7,369,166 of cap space with a very likely salary cap ceiling of $83.5 million next season. The team will have to tender new contracts to restricted free agent defensemen Fehervary and Alexander Alexeyev but the two will not take up the rest of Washington’s remaining cap space. Gavrikov will likely cost around $4.5 million on the NHL salary cap.
Moving left-wing Anthony Mantha’s $5.7 million cap hit would create some flexibility to acquire players such as Gavrikov.
Does This Make Sense For Washington?
Yes, Washington is below league average in goals-against per game and just traded a top-four defenseman in Orlov. While the addition of Sandin lessened the blow at the very least, the team could use a more defensive presence with both Sandin and Carlson on the backend. Fehervary has struggled defensively and for a team trying to squeeze as much out of the current core as they can, perhaps patience is waning with Fehervary struggling to cement a top-four role.
Other Potential Targets
RW Brock Boeser
By Harrison Brown
Thank you Harrison Brown for this analysis!
Been watching the Caps since 1975. The poor and/or declining performance of MANY Caps players during the final Pi$tol Pete season has been appalling. Disgusting even.
Caps definitely need another heavy-duty NHL defenseman. I’ll take Gavrikov. I look forward to more articles about prospective incoming Caps!
I also look for improved performances from many Caps with a crackerjack new Coach in town.
IMHO before going after ANY players this organization needs to take a long look and decide who will be the next head coach and for how long. Are you looking for someone for the last 3 years Ovie is here or are you looking for someone to actually be here for the rebuild. Once you decide upon that, then and only then do you worry about players. IF you sign Gavrikov does that mean that you trade or do not resign either Fehervary or Alexeyev? Also please stop about moving Mantha as once again IMHO the only way he gets moved is 1 of 2 ways either a trade for an equally bad contract with a pick or someone taking him with a high pick and giving back a middle round pick and the Caps having to assume about 1/2 of his salary. Also you have yo look ahead to after the 23/24season when Wilson and Sandin both need new contracts as will Protas. Wilson will want more money and probably in the Kuzy or Carlson area and Sandin will want more money also, Protas you can resign for something equal to what NAK or Milano or even Dowd are making.
As for your others: Nick Schmaltz…..still a NO
Brock Boeser……..still NO
Michael Bunting….Still NO
Honestly I would rather have the Caps fill any slots vacated by players leaving like Sheary, Smith or Irwin with players from Hershey. +Save money and do not commit salary cap space or length of contract to players for the next 3 year or until Ovie and his contract are up. Then let the rebuild begin. Hopefully with a good young coach not another retread!
While your plan makes some sense, as you know both Leonsis and MacLellan have stated there will be no rebuild (playing just prospects) during the remaining Ovi years, so I don’t see replacing vets with prospects at this point. It will be a retool and try again for 2023-24 season.
Terrible Ted and his sidekick the BMac Kid can decide who makes the team, and whether it’s a veteran laden roster, or a rebuilding one. But one thing the Gruesome Twosome can’t do is play the games. And if this roster isn’t any good, they might make the question of a rebuild moot.
Looking ahead to the 2025 draft, Dru Krebs’ Medicine Hat teammate Gavin McKenna is a 15 year old phenom, who was granted exceptional status, which is pretty rare.
Tanka for McKenna?
Divin’ for Gavin?
Sorry. He’s 2026 eligible.
IMHO doing a retool does a great disservuce not only to the players but also to the fans. The players deserve a chance to play for a chance to play for the Cup not retool just to be mediocre all because of one player. So So sad. and the same with the fans that buy season ticket and his overpriced beers and trinkets, they deserve the right to see a quality team play and play not only for the playoffs but be a legitimate contender for the Cup. After all isn’t that what team sports are about….titles, not seeing that one player gets a personal record. Don’t get me wrong it would be nice to see Ovie break the record but NOT at the expense of a chance to go deep into the playoffs or win a Cup neither of which this team is made up to do anymore. So basically what we are going to see(so Ovie can get paid and Ted get his ego fed) is a rebuilding team for the next 3 years of Ovies’ contract then a true rebuild for the next 5-7 years. So buckle up buttercups and what you are watching this season is what you are going to see for the next 10 or wore!! .
Maybe consider resigning Brown as he might take a pay cut to sign a 1 or 2 year deal coming off an injury.
Caps need to upgrade their defense in the off season. Gavrikov seems like a perfect fit if they can make the dollars work.
Why upgrade as the only thing that matters to the owner is that Ovie break the scoring record. He expects you to be satisfied with very mediocre hockey the next 3 years and pay his high ticket prices for the privilege of seeing a mediocre team at best just to see Ovie. You will get 3 years, at best, of very mediocre hockey and then 5-7 years of really bad hockey while this team tries to rebuild. What is going to be interesting is who they bring in as the HC next season. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that it will be PL as Ted wants to maintain an mediocre team at best just to get a record. I cant think of a young coach who would want to come here to coach under those restrictions of not really improving the team just to get a record.
I don’t like this idea myself. Who will sit on the left side? Of course it’s gonna be Alexeyev. He’s out of waiver options. If we send him down, we lose him. And we don’t want him sitting in the press box either. Move Sandin to his offside? Then who sits on the right?
Sign a decent 7th guy, or give it to G. Carlsson, pass on Gavrikov, and sink or swim with what we have.
Agreed, particularly since Gavrikov is likely to get at least $3M/yr… there’s no way the Caps can fit that under the cap unless somebody takes at least one of their trash contracts… Who’s gonna do that?
That’s why signing TVR was throwing in the towel. That space and cap should’ve been used for higher pairing dman. Continuing bad roster management.