It is no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to get their hands on a top defenseman ahead of the March 3rd trade deadline in order to ensure a long playoff run this spring.
While many interesting candidates have emerged on the trade market, general manager Kyle Dubas knows he must make the best choice for him on the ice, but in the Maple Leafs’ wallet as well.
That’s why Toronto has shifted its focus on Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But, according to David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, the Maple Leafs aren’t the only team with eyes on Gavrikov as the Minnesota Wild has reportedly also targeted him.
We get why. The Blue Jackets are likely to be sellers at the deadline and Gavrikov is a pending unrestricted free agent at 27. He has proven to be a true defensive blue liner and has an impressive reach and stature at six-foot-three and 213 pounds. Some see him as the trade bait that could lead to a deal similar to the one involving David Savard last year, since they play the same on many levels. Savard is however older, but was traded to Tampa Bay for a first and third-round draft pick.
The Blue Jackets don’t necessarily want to part with Gavrikov, but he has huge leverage on a new deal considering how bad the Blue Jackets are defensively, especially with No. 1 D Zach Werenski currently hurt.
He’s only making $2.8-million now and could be a top rental to get at the deadline, especially if he prefers to leave Columbus to test free agency. The Blue Jackets won’t want to lose him for nothing and we could see the Maple Leafs and the Wild getting more serious about acquiring Gavrikov.
This will be interesting to see how it unfolds.