Joonas Korpisalo, 6-3, 193 pounds
April 28, 1994 (28 years old)
Drafted 3rd round (#62 overall), 2012 NHL Draft
Cap hit: $1.3M through 2022-23
Role: Backup goaltender
One of the key pieces of work for the Blue Jackets this summer was adding goaltending depth to the system. After seeing five different players suit up for the job in 2021-22 (though, only four of them actually played), this was an important piece of work for GM Jarmo Kekalainen. But the team didn’t have to look too far in its search for a backup, signing a familiar name in long-time CBJ netminder Joonas Korpisalo.
I don’t think it’s debatable that the team felt a need to do right by Joonas, after seeing him struggle with consistency and injuries over the last two seasons. This is a bit of a risk however, as his save percentages have gradually declined from a 91.1% rating in 2019-20, to 89.4% and a ghastly 87.7% over the last two seasons. But nobody knows the health of Korpisalo better than the Blue Jackets, who clearly think that he still has some gas left in the tank in spite of his struggles, and deserves another shot in the NHL.
Korpisalo was the second goaltender taken by the Blue Jackets in the 2012 draft (after Oscar Dansk), and has spent his entire 7-year NHL career in Columbus. At his best, he’s a big, mobile goaltender who takes up a lot of the net and can make saves in a variety of ways, including some acrobatic. But he’s struggled with injuries and even when healthy, has never quite taken full control of the reins for the team. One has to believe that this is his last shot to earn a big contract – though it almost certainly won’t be in Columbus.
Three Keys to Success
- Stay healthy. It may seem hard to believe, but Joonas has never played more than 37 games in one NHL season. He spent several seasons as a clear backup, and has struggled with injuries since. Staying healthy really is key for him, especially at this point.
- Find your game. Whatever magic he had in the 2020 playoff bubble, he has to rediscover. At that point in time, he looked like one of the top up and coming goalies in the world, but he’s fallen apart since. Getting back to anywhere near that level, would be huge.
- Take advantage. Every start is critical for Joonas at this point, and with Elvis Merzlikins likely seeing the lion’s share, he has to be consistent and show well every time he gets a chance.
2022-23 Expectation: 30-35 quality appearances.
He doesn’t need to win every night, but he at least has to keep his overall save percentage above 90%. Ideally it’s even better than that. Obviously, you can’t always blame the goaltender on any specific night, but, he and Merzlikins play behind the same team. They face the same challenges, and one has been markedly better than the other. This is the last chance for Joonas Korpisalo in the NHL; while he won’t likely supplant Merzlikins (and will likely be replaced by rookie Daniil Tarasov after this season), he can still earn a nice contract elsewhere. Giving this team a quality, reliable backup, is his path back to a potential starting gig. If he can do that, both he and the Blue Jackets should benefit nicely. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Kent Johnson