You’ve probably heard the name before. A regular main stay at Columbus Blue Jackets prospect training camps since he was drafted with pick #76 in the 3rd Round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Elvis has been a name familiar to most who follow the team closely.
At training camps, noted for his name being that of famous musician Elvis Presley, Elvis quickly grew on fans with his social media presence. When he was drafted, the Columbus Blue Jackets were looking for stability at a position that before Sergei Bobrovsky’s arrival had been a rotating door for most of the franchise’s history.
Elvis Merzlikins is of Latvian descent, and has spent the last 4 seasons playing for HC Lugano of the National League, the highest tier of hockey in Switzerland. He currently has one more season left on his contract with Lugano. After that contract expires, it has long been estimated the Merzlikins will take his talents to North America.
Over the summer when rumors raised of him taking the starting job for the Cleveland Monsters, Elvis announced he would finish out his contract with HC Lugano on twitter.
Merzlikins has won the Swiss Goaltender of the Year award for the National League, and dominated with Team Latvia over the summer. Leaving Jackets fans to dream of the 24-year old’s potential with the big club whenever he decides to make the move overseas.
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In 2012, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected goaltender Oscar Dansk of Sweden with the #31st pick in the draft, the 1st player selected in the 2nd Round. This was the year the Jackets finished with the NHL’s worst record. They also selected a goaltender with the 1st pick of the 3rd round, Finland native Joonas Korpisalo. While Bobrovsky has been the team’s starter for the past 6 seasons, you’ve heard these goaltender’s names at one point or another.
Dansk left the organization after the expiration of his entry level contract, and signed a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights shortly after their NHL expansion draft. Dansk suited up and played 4 games with the Golden Knights, 3 of them being victories. Joonas Korpisalo has been serving as Sergei Bobrovsky’s backup since the departure of Curtis McElhinney in the January of 2017.
Sergei Bobrovsky in his time with Columbus has acquired 2 Vezina Trophy’s as the NHL’s greatest goaltender of the regular season. The awards coming in 2013 and 2017, Bobrovsky was ranked by the NHL as the current #1 goaltender in the league. The only issue coming when you see his contract will expire at the end of the 2018-19 NHL season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Bobrovsky have not talked about an extension as far as we know. Bobrovsky’s last contract according to CapFriendly was worth $29,700,000 over the last three seasons, and continuing into its final year this upcoming season. Until a possible extension is reached, we are left to assume the Jackets will have one of either Korpisalo or Merzlikins in net come the 2019-20 season.
Korpisalo has struggled in his few games backing up Sergei Bobrovsky. In 18 games this past season, Korpisalo has posted a .897 save percentage and 3.32 goals against average. Korpi barely has a .500 winning percentage, and with his confidence levels coming off the bench not being as strong as the Jackets would like, Merzlikins should come into the 2019-20 season treated as the starter.