Would the Blue Jackets benefit more from an Elvis Merzlikins buyout, or a trade?

One of the biggest pieces of business for the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer: what to do with Elvis Merzlikins. If they do decide to move on, what makes the most sense?
Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets
Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
3 of 4

The first option here is the most obvious one: they could just hold onto Elvis and keep hoping he bounces back.

In my opinion, this shouldn't - no, let's be clear - this cannot happen. That may seem like a drastic statement, but neither player nor team benefits from this scenario.

The Jackets went as far as hiring a new goaltending coach last year, to help Elvis get his game back. He did improve slightly, but was still nowhere near the level he needs to be to serve as a starting goaltender in this league.

Elvis needs a change of scenery. it's certainly not all his fault, but the Blue Jackets need the cap space, and they played like a better team with the other goaltenders here.

The second option: an Elvis trade.

If you can find a suitor to take on this Elvis Merzlikins contract in whole, take whatever they're willing to give up and run.

Freeing up $5.4 million in cap space would be extremely valuable to this team. The problem here: I just don't think that's possible.

The Jackets will have to eat some of this money to move Elvis. If that's 50%, that means paying him a $2.6m AAV to play somewhere else for the next three seasons. Not ideal, but it might be worth it to have a fresh start.

The good news with his contract is, his actual dollars do start to come down at the end of the contract. Next season, he's paid $6 million, then it goes down to $5.525, and finally $4.225 in the final year. So, an acquiring team may want to take a shot on a guy who has shown that he can play in this league.

Just looking around the contending teams this year, there are a few that could use goaltending help (Colorado, hello. Paging the Avalanche). I do think there will be a market, but what makes it tough is that there is a pretty nice crop of free agent goaltenders available this summer. Which means option three comes into play.

Regardless the market, I don't see a huge return coming for Merzlikins. At 50% retained, I think the Jackets would be lucky to land a middle round pick. Or, perhaps they could take a bad contract the other way and call it even. Just don't expect any kind of massive package to come our way.

Let's look at the final option, and our verdict.