The quiet before the storm is upon is, in regards to the NHL Trade Deadline. Teams have until 3:00 Eastern on March 3rd to make trades and finalize their rosters for the season, and the Blue Jackets will certainly be selling off assets on expiring contracts. One player likely to be dealt is goaltender Joonas Korpisalo – but if and when that happens, Daniil Tarasov should remain in the AHL.
Tarasov is the top goaltending prospect in the system for the Blue Jackets, and he looks really close to being NHL ready. In fact, he’s fared much better in the NHL than he has in the AHL this season; posting a 90.8% save percentage and 3.28 goals against average with the Blue Jackets in 13 games this season.
In the AHL, he’s playing to the tune of an 86.8% save percentage and a whopping 4.27 GAA. But, the key word in that sentence is the most important one: he’s playing.
Tarasov was widely considered one of the top goalies available at the 2017 NHL Draft, if we’re talking about pure ability. But he missed most of his draft season due to a leg injury, which led some to wonder if he would be selected at all. The Jackets took the risk and drafted Daniil in the third round (#86 overall), and have been patient with letting him develop.
But in spite of his consistent improvement, injuries continue to slow his arrival to the NHL. Since coming over from Russia at the end of the 2020-21 season, Tarasov has combined for just 40 games, split between the NHL and the AHL. That’s not much hockey for a young, developing goaltender.
To this point in his career, we know that he can stop pucks. In fact, on some nights he sure looks like the most capable goaltender in the entire organization. But he hasn’t had the reps to fully adjust to North American hockey – let alone prove himself capable of being a starting goaltender in the NHL.
He needs to start and play games consistently at this point in his career. It’s vital experience that he needs to prepare him to play in the NHL next year, where he’s likely to serve at least in a backup capacity behind Elvis Merzlikins.
So if the Blue Jackets should trade Joonas Korpisalo, it feels like the team might be wise to fill the current backup role in Columbus with another body. Jet Greaves is the next man up in the system, and I think that’s fine in the short term. But they may be wise to try to add another veteran body, in case someone goes down to injury. That’s been known to happen around here, especially this year.
I would not be surprised to see them make a minor move to add to the goaltending depth here. Think of a team that might covet that little bit of extra cap space by moving a highly paid backup that they might not need for their playoff run. Whatever it takes, please, keep Daniil Tarasov in a place where he’s playing hockey.