With stars like Seth Jones and Zach Werenski on the back end, the Columbus Blue Jackets have arguably one of the best young defense corps in the entire NHL. Now GM Jarmo Kekkalainen has locked up another important piece of his team's blue line core by inking rookie Vladimir Gavrikov to a three year contract worth $2.8 million per season.
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The 24 year old Gavrikov emerged as a rising star during his rookie season with the Blue Jackets last season. While he didn't generate the headlines that star rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar did, Gavrikov held his own putting up five goals and 18 points in 69 games. He led all Blue Jackets rookies in time on ice and established himself as a reliable top four pairing defenseman playing mostly alongside veteran David Savard.
"Vladimir Gavrikov was everything we hoped he would be during his rookie season last year, establishing himself as a top four defenseman in the National Hockey League," said Kekalainen. "He is still a young player that we expect will get better every year and continue to be an important part of our blueline."