Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-2024 Player Review: Elvis Merzlikins

After a great rookie season, Elvis Merzlikins has struggled to regain his form as a #1 goalie in the NHL. While his play improved this season, many of the same struggles occurred, which made team success difficult to achieve.
Vancouver Canucks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Vancouver Canucks v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

When Elvis Merzlikins signed a 5 year, $5.4 million contract back in 2021, he was signed to be the #1 goalie for the club. Since he signed that contract, his play has regressed, and his role as the #1 goalie for the team has come into question.

The biggest goal for Elvis was to bounce back from a disastrous 2022-2023 season and show that he is a #1 goalie in the NHL. He did improve from last season (save percentage went up from 0.876% to 0.897%, GAA went down from 4.23 to 3.45).

Even with the improvement, his numbers are not great for a starting goalie in the NHL. In all fairness, the defense still needs improvement and did not do him any favors this season.

However, #1 goaltenders can overcome this and can steal games for a team. Elvis was not able to do this much for the Blue Jackets.

As the season progressed, the coaching staff played backup Daniil Tarasov much more to see what he can do. Tarasov showed flashes of how good he can be.

He had better numbers than Merzlikins (3.18 GAA and 0.908 save percentage). But there were games that he stole for the CBJ, which really highlighted his ability to be a #1 goalie in the NHL.

It’s still a small sample size and no assumptions can be made about Tarasov. But if his play at the end of the season is any indication of how good he can be, then Elvis should start to worry about his starting job in the net.

In the middle of the season, Elvis made it known that he desired a “different scenario”. While no trade was made during the season, it remains a possibility in the offseason.

His value is low, and his contract (3 more years @ $5.4 million) will make a move very difficult to make. If a trade cannot be made, it is possible that the team just buys him out.

The new general manager will need to decide if he wants Elvis to be a part of the CBJ going forward. With Tarasov playing well coupled with Elvis unhappiness, it seems logical that Merzlikins may have played his final game for the Blue Jackets.

Elvis Merzlikins 2023-2024 grade:. C. Final season stats: 41 games played, 13 wins, 17 losses, 8 OTL, 3.45 GAA, 0.897 save percentage, 1 SO. . Elvis Merzlikins 2023-2024 grade:

Elvis did have a better 2023-2024 than he did in 2022-2023. He looked a little sharper and was healthier. However, he still never gave the team that bona fide #1 goaltender that it desperately needed. He gets a C because of his improvement this season.