The future of the Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending could look a lot different in the upcoming season. And Elvis Merzlikins looks to be a part of that future. The team announced Wednesday afternoon that they signed the goaltender to a one-year extension. The terms of the contract are unknown at this time.
Merzlikins had previous signed a one-year entry level contract with the team in March. That contract saw him with a cap hit of $1.84M. He did not appear in an NHL game this season.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) May 15, 2019
Merzlikins has spent a majority of his career in the National League playing for HC Lugano. He appeared in his second most games for the team and shined in the role. Merzlikins posted a 22-18-0 record along with a 2.44 GAA and a .921 SV%. He also posted a career high five shutouts. He finished second in the league in wins and third in shutouts.
Merzlikins has appeared in 210 career NLA games for Lugano. In those games, he posted a 105-79-7 record with a 2.63 GAA and a .920 SV%. He won the Jacques Plante Trophy as the league’s goaltender of the year in 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Merzlikins has also represented Latvia on numerous occasions. He most recently was named the Latvian player of the year in 2018. He was also named a top three player for Latvia the last three seasons. Merzlikins posted an impressive 1.50 GAA and a .940 SV% in six games at the 2018 IIHF World Championships.
He is currently representing Latvia once again at this year’s tournament.
Sergei Bobrovksy Era Could Be Ending
The future of Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus has been in doubt for a while now. Jarmo Kekalaninen’s bold decision to not trade his star goaltender paid off slightly for the team. They pulled off an upset by sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. Then they lost to the Boston Bruins in the second round.
Speculation rose when Bobrovsky recently put his condo in Columbus up for sale. He has long been linked to the Florida Panthers. With Merzlikins as the only goaltender signed for next season, the team will have other tough decisions to make. Joonas Korpisalo is a restricted-free agent. Bobrovsky and Keith Kinkaid are both un-restricted free agents.
It is possible that both Kinkaid and Korpisalo are re-signed going into next season. But Merzlikins will have a chance to battle for a spot in Columbus next season.
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