The Columbus Blue Jackets appear poised to make a significant move. NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman on his “32 Thoughts Podcast,” has indicated that the Blue Jackets are actively looking to trade goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.
Merzlikins, who has a salary of $6 million and a Blue Jackets cap hit of $5.4 million for the 2023-24 season, finds himself at a crossroads with the Blue Jackets.
With the mid-season timing, this financial commitment poses a challenge for potential suitors. However, Merzlikins’ performance this season, which includes a save percentage of .909 and a goals-against average of 3.19 over 20 games, might still make him an attractive option for teams looking to bolster their goaltending depth.
The Latvian goaltender’s journey with Columbus began back in 2014 when he was drafted 76th overall. Over the years, he’s shown flashes of brilliance, but consistency has been a concern. This season, his stats reflect a goaltender capable of starting but perhaps not at the elite level required for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Exploring Trade Scenarios for Elvis Merzlikins in the 2023-24 NHL Season
The market for goaltenders is always complex, especially mid-season. Teams weighing up a move for Merzlikins will have to consider not just his cap hit, but also the potential impact he could have on their roster. For Columbus, the decision to move him indicates a shift in their strategy, possibly eyeing a rebuild or retooling phase.
An intriguing possibility is a trade with the Edmonton Oilers involving their goaltender, Jack Campbell. This could be a win-win situation for both teams. Both carry a similar cap hit but with the struggles Campbell is facing, the Oilers would likely have to throw in a sweetener.
As the NHL trade deadline approaches, eyes will be on the Blue Jackets and Merzlikins. Will a team step up to take on his contract? How will this move affect the Blue Jackets’ strategy moving forward? These are the key questions as we head deeper into the 2023-24 NHL season.