Did the Kings Trade for the Wrong Defenseman?

Vladislav Gavrikov gets ready for a faceoff.
Photo: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, the Kings made a big deal to acquire defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The trade filled two positional needs for LA, as they had been struggling on defense, especially in net, all season. It also saw the Kings part with long-time goaltender Jonathan Quick in a move that angered many Kings fans.

In reviewing this trade, one has to really wonder if this was the right move for LA. Sure, Quick had been spotty in net all season and wasn’t going to cut it come playoff time, but sending him to Columbus felt like a disservice to the netminder who had led them to two Stanley Cups. This is made especially worse, considering he only had one year left on his contract.

The price paid of a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick also feels like a bit much, especially when you consider that Gavrikov and Korpisalo are unrestricted free agents (UFA) at the end of this season, and Gavirkov has been adamant about testing the free agent market.

This all leads to the claim that the Kings made the wrong move at this trade deadline. They were previously in on Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, and they should have stuck to their guns in trying to acquire him. Not only is he the better defender, but he’s also younger, plays a style of hockey more akin to what the Kings play, and his body has been through less of a physical toll than Gavrikov’s.

Concerns about Gavrikov

The concerns about Gavrikov start with his body. He’s only 26, but he plays a style of hockey which sees him prioritize defense at all costs. That style of hockey definitely is one that will make the Kings better, but the longevity of it leaves a lot to be desired. One has to wonder what sacrificing your body to stop the puck at all costs does to your ability to play the game at a high level for a long period of time.

Gavrikov isn’t the player that the Kings need long-term. He’s a big physical defender who plays a strong defensive game, but that game is susceptible to time. Furthermore, the fact he plays this style means he won’t be able to play at a high level for an extended period of time. When you sacrifice your body in the name of defense, that body can only last you so long. The Kings need a player who will be there for a long time, considering their window is just opening up.

Gavrikov was clearly a secondary option for LA. He will no doubt be a great player for LA, as what he brings to the table is something the Kings desperately need. He wasn’t who they set out to get initially, and he’s not who I believe they end up with when all is said and done.

Why Chychrun would have been a better fit

Just based on the Kings’ cap situation, Chychrun would be a better-fit long-term. Not only is he younger at age 24, but he’s under contract for this year and next. This could have left time for the Kings to decide whether or not he would be a good fit on the team past this season and playoffs. Additionally, they need a strong left-shot defenseman if they are to contend for a long period of time, and that could have been Chychrun.

Chychrun is also a better fit for LA simply because he is better than Gavrikov. Sure, Gavrikov fits a need for a defensive defenseman, but Chychrun offers so much more to a team. Not only is he better analytically defensively than Gavrikov, but he’s also better offensively. His two-way nature could be a nightmare to play against, especially on a fast-paced Kings team. Additionally, he has a ton of skill, something Gavrikov doesn’t necessarily have. This doesn’t make him a bad player, but a player like Chychrun is harder to come by.

Jakob Chychrun is the type of defenseman any team should want. A fast, two-way defender who can see the ice brilliantly and make passes out of the zone that lead to rush chances. Additionally, he’s not afraid to get involved in the offense himself without sacrificing much on the defensive end. Chychrun is already a great defenseman on a poor Arizona Coyotes team – imagine how good he could have been on LA.

Going forward

Gavrikov is going to be a good player for the Kings for the remainder of this season. What he brings to the table will no doubt be beneficial, yet there has to be some concern with this move. Not only was it a steep price to pay for a rental, but they could have used the assets used to acquire him on a defenseman who is better, under a team-friendly contract for another year, and can play at a high level for a long period of time.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Chychrun is now off the market. The Ottawa Senators acquired him for the low price of a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-round pick, and a second-round pick in 2026. LA had the capital and more to acquire Chychrun but instead turned their sights elsewhere, and Ottawa was smart enough to capitalize. Chychrun will no doubt be great for Ottawa, and Gavrikov will be great for LA as well, but in a year’s time, we might look back at this deadline.

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One thought on “Did the Kings Trade for the Wrong Defenseman?”

  1. This guy is talking about Gavrikov’s durability when the only full season Chychrun has played was 20-21 when it was a 56 game season (19-20 he played 63 while the team played 70).

    This article should be written in crayon.

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