Columbus Blue Jackets, Dmitri Voronkov, News and Rumors, Vladislav Gavrikov

Blue Jackets News & Rumors: Gavrikov, Voronkov & More

The Columbus Blue Jackets just endured a roller-coaster week. They opened with an impressive victory over the Boston Bruins. They then were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens before securing a win against the Ottawa Senators. Then in the Bruins rematch on Sunday, Brad Marchand ensured the series would be split.

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The Blue Jackets played perhaps some of their best hockey in the first 40 minutes in Boston on Sunday. They were only able to get a single goal out of it. Thus the frustration in finding consistency continues.

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The Blue Jackets now turn their attention to the week ahead which include three games at Nationwide Arena. It also marks the second consecutive home game that a former Blue Jacket makes their return. Joonas Korpisalo was welcomed back on Friday to loud cheers. This time it’s a defenseman who makes his return.

Gavrikov Returns

Funny how things work sometimes, right? Korpisalo made his return last Friday. Now it’s Vladislav Gavrikov who makes his return to Nationwide Arena on Tuesday with the Los Angeles Kings.

Both Gavrikov and Korpisalo were involved in the same trade to the Kings last season. The Blue Jackets got Jonathan Quick, a conditional first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024 in the deal. That first-round pick was then used by the Blue Jackets to eventually land defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Meanwhile, Gavrikov and Korpisalo each helped the Kings get to the postseason last year before losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. While Korpisalo move on to Ottawa, Gavrikov was able to agree to a two-year extension with the Kings.

Vladislav Gavrikov Los Angeles Kings
Vladislav Gavrikov returns to Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night. (Photo by Rob Curtis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gavrikov appeared in 256 games for the Blue Jackets before being held out of several games last season. There was thought that a trade was agreed upon. However it fell through which caused Gavrikov to sit out several games before the trade with the Kings was completed.

Gavrikov was known on the ice as a dependable two-way defenseman who blocked a lot of shots. The three-block sequence with Mike Hoffman stands out as a memorable moment. When he wasn’t blocking shots, he was answering the phone after scoring key goals. He was usually found with a smile on his face. He had a personality that shined through.

The Blue Jackets and Gavrikov were never able to agree on a new contract. Given his UFA status, the team elected to trade him. As for what kind of a reception he will get on Tuesday night? It should be mostly cheers given what all he did for them. Although some fans think Gavrikov wanted out of Columbus in a way similar to Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin.

Ultimately, Gavrikov was a well liked and respected player in his time with the Blue Jackets. He should be cheered, perhaps unlike his teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois who also returns to Nationwide Arena again this time as a member of the Kings.

Voronkov Shining

How good has Dmitri Voronkov and his line been of late? It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’ve been among the Blue Jackets’ best players in recent games. Whether it’s been scoring timely goals or playing dependable defense, he’s enjoyed success at both ends of the ice.

Voronkov is doing all this while being in a new country and not able to fully speak English. He understands the language of hockey and is showing everyone why there was hype around him. He’s doing things that not many 6-foot-5 and 240 pound players can do.

Voronkov dropped the gloves with Arber Xhekaj. He laid a massive hit on Charlie McAvoy. He stripped Thomas Chabot of the puck and then quickly scored on Korpisalo. When he’s on the ice, there’s impact.

Voronkov leads the Blue Jackets in 5-on-5 CF% at 51.03%. The Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents 14-9 when he’s been on the ice at 5-on-5. His team also gets 52.4% of expected goals and 54.7% of scoring chances when on the ice. And he’s playing center in the NHL for the first time. (Stats vis Nat Stat Trick)

Dmitri Voronkov Columbus Blue Jackets
Dmitri Voronkov has been one of their best players this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s a small sample size to be sure. But this is as good of a start for Voronkov in the NHL as he could have hoped for. He knows where to be positionally. He isn’t afraid to be physical. He can get the puck where it needs to go. And he can finish when given the chance.

Voronkov has 5-7-12 in his first 20 NHL games while averaging just 12:45 per game. He’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be. His line with Kirill Marchenko and Yegor Chinakhov should continue to get plenty of time together. They’ve deserved it too.

Side Dishes

  • The Kings come to Nationwide Arena with a perfect 9-0-0 road record. But the Blue Jackets are 3-0-1 in their last four against the Kings at Nationwide Arena.
  • Kings goalie Cam Talbot is having an incredible start to his season. He’s 11-4-1 with a 1.96 goals-against and a .930 save percentage. He’s second in the NHL in goals against and third in both wins and save percentage. The Blue Jackets are facing a tall order.
  • We know the Oilers have heavily scouted the Blue Jackets. Two other teams have been closely following to a lesser extent. The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. Elliotte Friedman of 32 Thoughts mentioned them in their latest episode.
  • I can confirm the Golden Knights have been following the Blue Jackets around going back to Black Friday in Newark. The same scout who was at Prudential Center was at the next two Blue Jackets home games along with another scout.

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  • What could it mean? Anything really. The Blue Jackets have a logjam of players. The Golden Knights could have interest in some of those players for the right price. All we know is that teams at the bottom of the standings are going to have other teams watching them in case they continue to fall out of the playoff race.
  • Speaking of the logjam, it could even get more crowded. Both Aaron Portzline in his Sunday Gathering and then Brian Hedger after that in the Dispatch each mentioned the Blue Jackets could keep Spencer Martin around even if Daniil Tarasov is ready. What happens if there’s another injury? They wouldn’t want to take any chances and then get caught short. Other teams have carried three goalies. But it really limits their roster flexibility. How long would they do that if that’s their decision?
  • The Blue Jackets were six points out of the last wildcard spot in the East on Monday night. They’ve played the most games and have many teams to jump. The spread may only be six. But the math is unfavorable. They have to string a bunch of wins together to realistically jump back in this race.

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