5 Pressing tasks for Don Waddell as he takes over the Columbus Blue Jackets

Don Waddell was hired as president, GM and alternate governor of the Blue Jackets this week. He has a lot get done, with only about three months to do it.
2019 NHL Awards - Nominee Media Availability
2019 NHL Awards - Nominee Media Availability / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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4. Make a decision on Elvis Merzlikins...

This one, in my opinion, could be the most meaningful change the Blue Jackets could make this summer. Elvis Merzlikins has all the talent in the world, but things are no longer working for him in Columbus.

Don Waddell might have tipped his hand already here, having mentioned several times that he needs to find a way to help get Elvis back on track. He also mentioned trying to trade for him.

In my opinion, running it back the wrong way to go here. It's been three seasons of downward spiraling from the talented Latvian goaltender, and to be honest, it's hard to look at his declining play and not see that he's a big part of the reason this team has been struggling.

It's a touchy, difficult situation.

We all know the tragic story of why Merzlikins has seen his play decline. I feel terrible for the way things have worked out for him in Columbus. It's been wholly unfair.

But, at some point, you have to look at this from a logical perspective and make the change. A buyout makes the most sense for the team and the player. Here's why.

The Blue Jackets would be able to go in a different direction in goal for the upcoming season. There are some good options available via free agency this summer, if they're looking for a veteran backup or depth piece.

For Merzlikins, he gets paid out half of his contract, which will give him the financial freedom to sign a less expensive "show me" deal elsewhere. He can bet on himself, and I believe that if he can regain his confidence - that "show me contract could be the kick he needs - he will regain his form as a starting goaltender in this league.

I don't see how continuing into next season with him back makes sense for the Blue Jackets. From the outsider's perspective, it feels like Elvis and the rest of the team are on two different wave lengths. They just look more comfortable in front of the other goaltenders who have played here.

Part of that may be due to Merzlikins' firey personality. He can make a dynamic save - only to follow it up with an angry response to someone skating through his crease. Then, he's prone to a soft goal soon after. We've seen it all play out just like that, too many times over the last three years.

It wouldn't surprise me if the team has just soured on that whole situation. Whatever direction they go in here doesn't fix everything. There's still an elite shooter hanging around here.