Don Waddell Confirms Patrik Laine’s Recovery, Discusses Elvis Merzlikins, And Pascal Vincent

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Earlier this week the Columbus Blue Jacket’s new general manager Don Waddell sat for an interview on the Frankly Speaking Podcast with Frank Seravalli. In the interview, Seravalli asks some tough questions about the state of the Blue Jackets and key players Patrik Laine and Elvis Merzlikins.

Patrik Laine

Last week a photo of Laine in a sling with a bandaged shoulder circulated on social media. When asked about the image Waddell confirmed that Laine had shoulder surgery. He said,

“I think it was more of a cleanup, they didn’t think it was anything too serious”

Waddell also mentioned wanting to talk with Laine and his representation to “see where he’s at”. He said,

“When I’ve talked to players about being here, do you want to be part of the solution, or not? We want players who want to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets”.

Patrik Laine, his girlfriend, and their new puppy posing for a picture.

Elvis Merzlikins

After having back-to-back seasons with poor performance, some have questioned what will happen with Elvis Merzlikins. When asked how he’ll address the situation, Don Waddell said he would like to meet with Elvis in mid-June to address this “head-on”. In a previous statement Waddell had said that, while GM for the Carolina Hurricanes, he tried to trade for Merzlikins four years ago. In these past four years, Elvis had a great performance in the 2021-22 season with 27 wins and 23 losses, but since that season he went 7-18-2 in the 2022-23 season and finished this last season 13-17-8. Elvis showed promise in many games this past season. His save percentage improved from .876 to .897 in the past two seasons and his goals-against average dropped from 4.23 to 3.45.

On social media, some have speculated if Elvis Merzlikins will get traded this summer. That may not be likely for a few reasons. One reason is that finding some wins was tough, but there was improvement from the 2022-23 season. Another reason is that his contract might be hard to move. Elvis has a $5.4 million cap hit for the next three seasons before he’s a UFA. A buyout of his contract would have a $1.8 million cap hit for the Jackets for the next six seasons. Even with the salary cap going up next year, the Blue Jackets have pending RFAs to sign and may be looking to add some other high-quality players. Columbus still has a cap hit of $891,667 over the next two seasons from buying out Alex Wennberg’s contract.

We have to do everything possible that we can to put him in a spot to succeed, and then it’s up to him.

Don Waddell

Pascal Vincent

Another hot topic among fans is what may happen with head coach Pascal Vincent. After the preseason debacle with Mike Babcock, Vincent was thrown into the head coaching position at the last minute. In his first season, the Blue Jackets had a record of 27-43-12. They finished last place in the Metropolitan division with 66 points.

In his exit interview this year Vincent was quoted as saying,

“I think this team is on the verge of, if we do this right, we can be quite successful for years to come.”

Don Waddell said he spoke with Pascal for fifteen minutes and will speak with him more soon. He also said,

“I don’t know Pascal, I know him watching him behind the bench. First time I ever met him was the other day, so I need to spend some time with him and we’ll figure out if him and I are made for each other.”

Lance Schrock

Credentialed Writer covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Host of the BrewJackets Podcast.

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