Where Will Elvis Merzlikins Land?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Setting the Scene

Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has been making headlines with his recent comments that he and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to “Find a new scenario.” These quotes come after the goaltender has had to sit for the past six games in a row as either a backup on the bench or a healthy scratch. While he made it clear it’s not a trade request, he also made it clear that he is not okay with the current situation of not being the number one goalie.

Merzlikins stated, “I want to play, I’m not going to be number three, I can assure you that, especially for the hard work I did this summer, mentally and physically.”

A Winning History

Elvis Merzlikins, a native of Latvia, has found his home here in Columbus. The 29-year-old goalie was recently quoted as saying, “You all know, I love Columbus; this is my home. My son was born here. I’m going to keep the house here. This is my home. I’m going to spend my summers here.”

His professional debut started in Switzerland in the National League, playing for HC Lugano for their 2012-13 season. Throughout six seasons with Lugano, Merzlikins boasted two Jacques Plante trophies, the award given to the best goaltender in the National League.

Elvis’ NHL debut for the Blue Jackets was on October 5, 2019, with a loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In that season, he would record 13 wins, nine losses, eight overtime losses, and five shutouts in 33 games. He was then named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team, only the third Blue Jacket to have received that honor.

Including this season, Merzlikins’ current contract has four years left with a $5.4 million cap hit.

From First to Last

The stats from last season (2022-23) left some fans wondering what happened to the star goaltender they once knew. With a 4.23 goals against average, a .876 save percentage, and a record of 7-18-2, many fans took to social media to voice their concerns. The comments did not fall on deaf ears, though, as Elvis had worked hard through the off-season to ensure that this year would be different.

So far in this 2024 season, the goaltender has 23 starts with seven wins, eight losses, and six games going to overtime or ending in a shootout. This has led to an improvement of 3.25 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.

So What Does A New Scenario Mean?

Head coach Pascal Vincent said, “That’s above my paygrade,” when he was asked about this new scenario involving Elvis Merzlikins. Vincent also stated that the demotion of Elvis did not stem from the recent confrontation with Tom Wilson. A confrontation that likely cost a game for the Blue Jackets.
Many speculate this “new scenario” will be in the form of a trade, but there are other possibilities that could happen.

One possibility is that there could be a buyout of Elvis’ contract. This could be a very costly option as the Blue Jackets would have to pay out two-thirds of the remaining contract, which would be about $14 million. The payments would be spread out over eight years, and there is also a cap hit each of those years.

Another option that may be available is if Elvis can impress with his play and move back up to that number one spot. I’m unsure of the probability of this happening, as he hasn’t seen any ice time for the last five games.

Dropping Elvis to waivers in hopes another team picks up his contract is always possible. Is it likely? In my opinion, probably not. While I can’t speak for him, the Blue Jackets’ General Manager, Jarmo Kekäläinen, might want some sort of return for Elvis. If it’s solely for a cap dump, the option is there, though.

While there are different options, the question of what kind of trade value Merzlikins has is hard to ignore. Some teams could use some goalie help. There are areas the Blue Jackets need help in as well. While some could argue last season’s performance of Elvis severely hurt his value, others could point to the improvements this season. A package trade or a little salary retention could always help sweeten the deal.

Some Final Thoughts

Elvis Merzlikins has proven that he can be a top contender and a number-one goalie. There have been some unfortunate times for the goalkeeper, but with recent improvements, it feels like he may be on an upswing. With that in mind, Elvis’ trade value has most likely gone up from last season. Is it enough to move a $5.4 million contract, or is there a better option? Time will tell, and hopefully, we know soon!

221. Don Waddell + Connor CBJectively Speaking

On this episode, we discuss the Blue Jackets hiring of Don Waddell as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, identify his most important order of business this summer, and discuss the Stanley Cup Final.Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Thread, and Twitter: @CBJectivelyPodCheck us out on Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube: CBJectively SpeakingRate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen!Check out our website: www.cbjectivelyspeaking.comCheck out our merchandise: www.cbjectivelymerch.comJeremy's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/jpaul/Laura's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/lnorman/
  1. 221. Don Waddell + Connor
  2. 220. All Things Playoffs
  3. 219. And I'm Laura!
  4. 218. Two Thorns, No Rose
  5. 217. Jeff Rimer, The G.O.A.T.

Lance Schrock

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

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