Drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Merzlikins is swiftly becoming an exciting prospect for the Jackets. In addition to nailing down the starter’s spot for Lugano of the Swiss league this past season, he represented his native Latvia at the World Championships. Merzlikins also led the way for Lugano in the Spengler Cup, where they finished as the runner up. His season was recently capped off by being named the top goaltender in the Swiss League.
At 6’3”, 181 he’s got the size you’d like to see in an NHL goaltender, to go along with excellent athleticism.
Outlook for 2016 / 2017
It’ll be a few years before we’ll see him in a CBJ sweater, as he’s signed with Lugano until the end of the 2018-2019 season. His contract does not have an NHL out-clause. The Jackets will retain his rights however, as he’s currently on their suspended list, a nasty term that is only in place because the NHL doesn’t have a direct transfer agreement with the Swiss league.
With Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg knocking on the NHL door (if not already being halfway through the door), the end of Merzlikins’ contract could coincide with a need for a new starter in Cleveland. Keep an eye on this kid.