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Columbus Blue Jackets


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Columbus Blue Jackets

Post by jedi17 on Fri 19 May 2017, 8:02 pm

Elvis Merzlikins and the future of the Blue Jackets goalies
May 18, 2017, 1:24 PM ET [2 Comments]
Paul Berthelot
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT
For those following the World Championships, Latvian goalie Elvis Merzlikins has been the breakout player of the tournament.

He backstopped Latvia to huge wins over Denmark, Slovakia and Italy. He allowed just two goals against Sweden who are loaded with NHL talent. Unfortunately Latvia lost a tough game in a shootout to Germany and just missed making the quarterfinals.

Overall Merzlikins played in six games and put up a .937 save percentage. Among starting goalies that ranked second behind Leonardo Genoni of Switzerland and just ahead of noted NHL goalie Andrei Vasilevsky. That number also ranked ahead of Calvin Pickard of Canada and Jimmy Howard of the USA, two solid goalies in the NHL. Merzlikins also significantly outperformed his fellow Blue Jacket goalie prospect Joonas Korpisalo who had an .873 save percentage in five games for Finland.

Merzlikins faced an average of 31.7 shots per game, the second most in the tournament. For his efforts he was named one of the top three players on his team, the second year in a row he has taken home that hounour. Now having success here is very good, but it doesn’t mean Merzlikins is ready to jump right in and be an NHL star. Connor Hellebuyck put up a .948 at this tournament two year ago and he's yet to put up big numbers in the NHL.

The good news is looking at Merzlikins there is a lot to like about his game. His athleticism is off the charts.

He does well under pressure, staying composed when facing a flurry of shots.

And doesn’t seem to get bothered by things, even pucks being shot at his mask.

This is also not the first time we have seen Merzlikins succeed. He has been a fantastic goalie in the NLA in Switzerland winning the Jacques Plante Trophy as the best goalie in the league in 2015-16. This past season he was also named a Spengler Cup All-Star as he put up a .940 save percentage in four games. He’s put himself on the map and people are taking notice.

That is a very bold statement and is influenced big time by recency bias but the point remains, Merzlikins is right in the thick of the Blue Jackets goalie pipeline. Sergei Bobrovksy as long as he is here is number one. After him it still has be Korpisalo, despite his recent struggles. He's had success in the NHL and that experience gives him the edge. Merzlikins fits in right around the third or fourth spot with Anton Forsberg. Merzlikins might be a better goalie than Forsberg, but again Forsberg has done it in North America and that gives him an edge.

If the Jackets are lose a goalie in the expansion draft they are very well set up. Merzlikins has one more year on his deal with his NLA team and there is not an NHL opt-out. It is very likely that once that deal expires he will come over and join the Blue Jackets organization. He will need some time in the AHL to adjust to the smaller ice surface, but once he does he could be a very goalie in the NHL.

    Current date/time is Wed 23 May 2018, 10:55 pm