The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for the remainder of the season due to an injury. This comes at a time where the Jackets are already in last place in the Central Division and have very little hope of salvaging a respectable season. The team announced the news Tuesday morning.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 27, 2021
Joonas Korpisalo Injury Ends Season
Korpisalo regressed sharply in 2020-21. The 26-year-old goaltender posted the worst numbers of his career with a .894 save percentage and 3.30 goals-against-average. That is way down from the promising .911 and 2.6 he posted last year in 2019-20. His step backwards in development and production is a huge reason why the Blue Jackets have had such a poor season overall.
Columbus originally drafted Korpisalo in the third round of the 2012 Draft, but he has not been used consistently until recent seasons. He appeared in 31 games as a rookie in 2015-16, but just 32 combined over the next two seasons thanks to the presence of Sergei Bobrovsky. Overall, Korpisalo has a career save percentage of .905 with a 2.90 goals-against-average. There is plenty of time for the Finnish netminder to recover and provide years of dependable goaltending service. That will have to start in 2021-22.
How Columbus Replaces Korpisalo
The immediate solution is to start Elvis Merzlikins. The Latvian backup has appeared in 24 games in 2020-21 with a superior 910 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against. His backup will be countryman Matiss Kivlenieks. He has not appeared in an NHL game this year, but does sport a .926 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against in seven games with the organization’s AHL affiliate. That duo will handle the net for the remainder of this campaign.
This injury might spell the end of Korpisalo’s tenure with the Jackets. He wasn’t having a good season and the team has alternatives as it starts to rebuild. They could expose him in the expansion draft, but there is also a strong chance that he is just traded. It could be the first of several moves as Columbus tries to recover from an awful year.