The Columbus Blue Jackets have an interesting amount of depth at goaltender, with large amounts of potential but a lack in current skill.
The NHL off-season is often a time of evaluation. With the Columbus Blue Jackets entering the off-season early once again, it’s time to see how the team is built from the top to the bottom.
Using Elite Prospect’s depth chart as a starting point I created an organizational depth chart at every position. Today will mark the start of this series with goaltenders.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky
Sergei Bobrovsky is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender with no doubt in anyone’s mind. The two time Vezina trophy winner has struggled in the playoffs but in the regular season his play resembles that of a brick wall on most occasions. He’s certainly looking forward to a potential career year as he heads into a contract year.
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2. Joonas Korpisalo
Joonas Korpisalo just finished up his third year as the backup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, however it seems that he gets closer to losing that job annually. With a work load of under twenty games both of the last two years, it becomes likely that his potential has been stunted and he’ll never quite reach NHL starter level. John Tortorella can almost certainly take a big portion of the blame for that.
3. Elvis Merzlikins
Elvis Merzlikins has been phenomenal for HC Lugano. However Elvis yet to make the jump over to North America due to his contract running through the 2018-2019 season that does not have an exit clause for the NHL or KHL according to the team’s website.
The Latvian’s stats are impressive at any professional level as his save percentage of .921 was fifth in the league in the regular season. He also led the league in playoff save percentage although his Lugano squad would lose in game seven of the NLA finals.
4. Daniil Tarasov
While Korpisalo, Merzlikins, and Kivlenieks all have some potential to be NHL level goalies, none of them live up to Daniil Tarasov. In 40 games in the Russian MHL (top junior league) he posted a goals against average of 1.85 and a save percentage of .928. The 2017 third round pick is currently only 19 years old and will continue to develop, potentially into a star. The biggest question is whether or not he’d be willing to come over to North America and whether or not the transition would be a successful one.
5. Matiss Kivlenieks
Oddly enough, the second Riga, Latvia native on this list Matiss Kivlenieks struggled with his first year in the AHL. However he could turn out to be the future of the organization at only 21 years old.One thing to note with his season in Cleveland; the Monsters were terrible. They were the worst team in the league and that lack of support surely hurt his numbers.
His years in Sioux City of the USHL were phenomenal and although he may take some time to adjust to the professional game, once he does he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
6. Jeff Zatkoff
Jeff Zatkoff easily could’ve fallen to last on this list, however his NHL experience may have granted him a bit of a safety net for one down year in the AHL. His 3.22 goals against average and .885 save percentage were horrific and his 17 game stint in Cleveland showed why he’s no longer at the NHL level, even as a fringe backup.
7. Peter Thome
Rounding out the list, Peter Thome much like Kivlenieks has been fairly successful at the USHL/NCAA level, although Kivlenieks was undoubtedly better. Thome’s first year at the University of North Dakota was better than all but one of his years in the USHL, giving hope to Columbus Blue Jackets fans about the former sixth round draft pick