NHL trade deadline: Gavrikov, Boeser, Henrique among most intriguing trade targets
There's tons of value to be found in the trade market as we approach next week's deadline.
The NHL's March 3 trade deadline is less than a week away and trade season is officially underway!
We have already seen a number of major moves, including Bo Horvat, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly all changing teams. Funnily enough, all three went to the East, and that is where the balance of power lies this season. In some ways, it’s not surprising to see Eastern Conference teams loading up because there are just so many good teams in that conference to navigate.
Even with a number of big names off the board, the market is still chalk full of good players. Let’s take a look at three players that are up for grabs and what they bring to the table.
Vladislav Gavrikov has been a hotly-debated player and the public perception of him has been a rollercoaster ride. The asking price of multiple draft picks, including a first rounder, has pushed the conversation into a buyer beware situation, but to some degree it has pushed the conversation a bit too far. Gavrikov is a good player that can help any team in the league, which is why a number of contenders have checked in on him.
What are teams seeing in him? Beyond being 6-foot-3 and 220+ pounds (which definitely is a plus), he’s actually a bit better with the puck than most people give him credit for. Columbus is awful this season and they play with zero structure. It’s really hard to evaluate anyone on that team, and somewhat like we saw with players like Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson last year, when solid players move from bad teams to good teams, their play improves. Just last season, Gavrikov actually finished 24th among all defensemen in even-strength points. He’s going to end his career with Columbus by notching one point in his last 25 games there and he’s better than that. With that one point, a goal, you can see that he is active. He’ll join the rush and try to make plays with the puck.
He doesn’t score here in this clip, but its another example of how he jumps into the attack and is not just a “stay at home” defenseman. He will look to create offense and last season had some success doing so.
Defensively, Gavrikov has been buried his whole career — the only time his offensive zone starts at 5-on-5 were higher than 40 percent were in his rookie season. His most common defensive partners since entering the league have been David Savard and Andrew Peeke. Columbus has basically been good for one season since Gavrikov entered the league with them and when they've been competitive, he has shown flashes as a good defenseman capable of stopping cycles and boxing out well in front, as well as having the ability to move the puck up ice and contribute offensively.
He has been among Columbus’ top two defensemen in shorthanded time on ice, and while they have been 20th in shorthanded efficiency over that time, their save percentage is 23rd, giving up more goals than their expected goals against total in that time. At 27-years-old and only having played 256 games in the league, you can argue there’s still room for his game to grow, let alone whatever boost he’d gain simply from playing on a good hockey team.
With a number of good forwards already off the board, Adam Henrique’s name becomes all the more interesting. It’s easy to forget a quality veteran when he’s playing on the Anaheim Ducks, but Henrique is still a very good player.
At the start of the 2020-21 season, he had four points in 16 games and was placed on waivers. The whole league passed up on him. After that wakeup call of sorts, he did pick it up and had 17 points in 29 games the rest of the way. In the spring, he captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Championships, putting up five goals and 10 points in eight games. He hasn’t had many chances to produce in high pressure situations between that and his 13 points in 24 games when the Devils made the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. He has only played in the playoffs one other time in his career.
Since that Team Canada gold, he has 75 points in his last 115 games (.65 points per game). In those two seasons, he has outscored opponents by 10 when he's on the ice. In that same time, when he has not been on the ice, the Ducks have been outscored by 147 goals. He’s productive and responsible in his own end, as much as you can be on a team like Anaheim, especially as he plays with two young guys in Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish that are very much learning the league and making mistakes along the way.
Henrique is also third among all Ducks forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game. At 5-on-5, he lines up on the left wing, but he’s also second on the team in faceoffs taken (and has a winning faceoff percentage, for what it’s worth). Henrique only has nine points on the power play (three goals) but he can play the bumper role effectively. He fits the category of good at everything, but not great at any one thing. Every team contending can use a guy like that, and once in awhile he can even wow you.
It’s fair to note that Henrique is week-to-week with a lower body injury, so that might impact what teams are willing to give up and whether the Ducks will want to make the deal at that point. Henrique has another year remaining at $5.825 million, so the Ducks would have to retain salary, but if you can get that number to around $4 million and have a legitimate 20-goal forward that can play in any situation for two playoffs runs, that’s pretty good.
If Gavrikov is a solid player on an expiring contract and Henrique is a good player on a bad team that is wasting away, Brock Boeser is a player that simply needs a change of scenery. In Boeser’s first full season in the league, he played 62 games and had 55 points, good for .89 points per game. He’s never hit that mark again, or the 29 goals he scored in that rookie season, though he was at .88 points per game in the COVID-shortened season just a few years ago.
That 29-goal season to start his career speaks to what makes him a good player: his shot. Boeser is a trigger man that can still snipe if he has some form of time and space. This was just a few weeks ago.
One of the concerning things is that he simply isn’t shooting as much. He’s on pace for the lowest shot per game output of his career and he’s also shooting a career worst 8.8 percent. Last season, he produced at his worst rate since entering the league at .65 points per game, so at the very least he did push a bit above that, with .74 so far this season (though that is below his career average). It’s not like he’s been playing with bad players either; his most common linemates this season were Bo Horvat and Ilya Mikheyev (neither of which are currently on the active roster). Last season it was J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson. At 26-years-old — his birthday is Feb. 25 — there’s time for him to sort things out.
But it’s a big bet. He has two years left on his deal and he’s making $6.65 million per season. Vancouver would have to retain or take on a bad contract in return to facilitate a trade. Boeser can score though, and goals are always in demand. He’s had 23+ goals in every season he’s played in the league except for the COVID-shortened season, where he also missed time and had 16 goals in 57 games.
And that brings us to the final concern of note: Boeser can’t stay healthy. The only time he has played a full season is the bubble season, registering 23 goals and 49 points in 56 games that season. His injury history is sad to read. You see flashes of the ability and you see the injuries mounting and wonder if it has taken a toll on his game. Then add the team environment around him and you can piece the struggles together pretty quickly. Boeser still flashes at times, which makes it all the more frustrating. He certainly can still shoot. There are contractual hurdles to navigate and Vancouver would have to bend but if you need a scorer, but there are still few better than Boeser available on the trade market.