The Columbus Blue Jackets are reportedly close to signing top prospect goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. It’s expected that he will sign an entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets.
ICYMI, The Athletic: Blue Jackets close to signing top prospect G Elvis Merzlikins, hailed as “best goalie outside the #NHL”; Latvian star could arrive in Columbus within a week, debut w @monstershockey later this month; also, #CBJ headed to China?https://t.co/crNCpfTPJ4 pic.twitter.com/4w6F44hhwB
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) March 18, 2019
Elvis Merzlikins Expected to Sign With Blue Jackets
Merzlikins has also seen time in international play including last year during the World Cup of Hockey. He appeared in six games posting a 1.50 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. Elvis Merzlikins has been named World Championship top 3 player on a team the past three years. Also, during his career in the NLA Merzlikins won the Jacques Plante Trophy for the goaltender of the year in 2016 and 2018.
This season Merzlikins posted a 2.44 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 43 games with HC Lugano.
What This Means for the Future
When the deal is official Elvis Merzlikins is expected to head to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. The Monsters are currently fighting for a playoff spot in Calder Cup Playoffs. Jean-Francois Berube and Brad Thiessen have carried the load so far for Cleveland. However, more help will likely be welcome.
Sergei Bobrovsky is set to become a UFA at end of the season and could be leaving Columbus. If this happens it would open up the door to Merzlikins picking up some AHL time next year if he doesn’t make the team out of training camp.
Seeing how well Merzlikins has played in the NLA it wouldn’t be a surprise if he saw time with the Blue Jackets next season. The 24-year-old goaltender will likely see action in the pre-season next year for Columbus. Additionally, he could very well be fighting for the back-up job in Columbus. The Jackets are hoping that Merlikins is their new goaltender of the future if Bobrovsky decides to leave. But, he will have to fight with Joonas Korpisalo for the starters role.