When the Los Angeles Kings traded Cal Petersen and Sean Walker and cleared more than $5 million in cap space as part of a three-team swap with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers Thursday, it was expected that the Kings would put that cap space to use in short order.
One day later, they have. Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent, has signed a two-year extension to remain with the Kings, according to a tweet Wednesday from his agent Dan Milstein. The contract carries an AAV of $5.875 million and will be paid almost entirely in signing bonuses of $5.725 million this July 1 and $4.475 million on July 1, 2024, as reported by Chris Johnston.
The Kings acquired Gavrikov, 27, as part of a March 1 blockbuster trade that also brought goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to L.A. and sent franchise legend goalie Jonathan Quick to the Blue Jackets along with the Kings’ 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick. Gavrikov was an instant hit, mixing sturdy defensive acumen and generally mistake-free hockey with decent mobility for a 6-foot-3, 221 pounder. He is a highly effective penalty killer, but the ice also tilted very favorably for the Kings with him on the ice at 5-on-5; they outscored opponents 14-6 while generating 54.14 percent of the shot attempts and 56.93 percent of the scoring chances across his 20 regular season games. His impact was similarly positive in the postseason; his two most common opponents faced were Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and the Kings generated more scoring chances than the Oilers when Gavrikov was out against either of them.
Gavrikov isn’t known for his offense, of course, but he had nine points in his 20 regular season games with L.A., putting him on the best 82-game scoring pace of his career. Playing primarily with Matt Roy thus far for the Kings, Gavrikov will be an integral part of their top four and P.K. unit for the next two seasons at minimum.