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Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo? Trying to forecast the road ahead

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Once the formidable strength of the depth chart, the Blue Jackets are eager to see who sticks out in the crease this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

Projections have come out across the NHL landscape — Seeds has something about that — and unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll know most of those prognosticators have not painted the Blue Jackets in a positive light. Naturally after all that was lost during free agency, I guess one isn’t surprised. I’m not as focused (worried?) about the offense skill that was lost, because while you don’t just replace an Artemi Panarin, the team is chock full of young talent pumping through the organizational pipeline.

Where projections are a bit down on, and the part which I am most curious to find out about, is the Blue Jackets goaltending situation. Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo are going to be given full reign in the cage next season as the team hopes at least one distinguishes themselves to take over as the official No. 1 netminder.

Projections aren’t kind to the goaltending simply for the fact that Merzlikins has never played in the NHL and Korpisalo has only a limited number of career games (81 starts, 90 appearances since 2015-16).

This area on the team depth chart is the most unknown since 2013 when the Jackets had a crease timeshare of Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky. ‘Bob’ won the Vezina in that lockout-shortened season.

The other day, the crew had another one of our enlightened slack debates on the very subject:

elpalito

The defense and goalie articles are not going to be kind to the CBJ.

paledragon

I’d put the o/u at 90.5 instead.

Eric Seeds

Scoring yes without question. Panarin is a top ten winger in the league. Goaltending, we have literally no idea about Elvis, but I’m willing to say he’s not. I’d say 82.5 is fair.

Or 84.5. Whatever.

Man. Where the hell are we getting 90 points?

elpalito

I think, 91 pts and any kind of playoff contention will depend on players with zero history -- martel, storm, elvis -- stepping up.

paledragon

I think we’re much closer to a middle 10 team than a bottom 10 team.

Eric Seeds

Possible! But I wouldn’t bet on it.

elpalito

Minnesota has a far superior defense. Their goalie situation is more known. Their offense is worse, but CBJ lost a lot.

paledragon

Dubnyk is not as good as his numbers. Our D is younger than theirs.

So, seeds961, you’re off the “Elvis is a good enough replacement so save the money and spend it elsewhere” train? lol.

paledragon

That’s where the bet is...how good will the goaltending be? I think low 80s is the floor with bad goaltending. Average gets you up around 90. Great gets you into the playoffs.

Dan P

Oh, I know. I just remember the entire impetus for us letting Bob walk earlier in the season was that it was bad asset management to pay that much for him at his current age and for the term he wanted when Elvis was probably not enough of a drop-off to crater things considering how much cheaper he was.

Eric Seeds

I think he’ll [Elvis] be good! I think there’s gonna be an adjustment period but he’ll be fine.

Dan P

(then we just ran out of dudez to spend those financial assets on, heh).

Eric Seeds

I think he’ll be better than Korpisalo though.

Dan P

Oh, for sure.

paledragon

Right. But most national types assume Korpi is the default starter.

Dan P

I think, at worst, he’s a league-average bridge to Veini Vehvilainen/Daniil Tarasov and Korpi is trade bait.

Eric Seeds

I don’t think Korpisalo is all that good and I would not be surprised if he finds his way outta Columbus by next summer.

Dan P

(I don’t think Korpi is a league-average bridge anymore.)

Eric Seeds

Right Dan, I think between Elvis/VV/Tarasov, one of those guys hits.

paledragon

Korpi may be ok as the starter. He’s better with regular work. If Elvis is better, trade Korpi because he’s not a great backup.

Dan P

I think he showed potential when he got those starter minutes, but the true test of a goalie longer term is if he can adjust once the league figures out his weaknesses and holes. Korpi hasn’t done that yet.

To that end, going to be reeeeal interesting to see how Vasilevskiy follows up this year. I think the Jackets exposed a heeeyyooooge hole in his game high-blocker.

paledragon

I think Korpi DID adjust a little last year. His positioning wasn’t as wild.

Eric Seeds

Yeah but he’s still an .890 guy. He needs to get up to .908 to even be average.

paledragon

Right.

elpalito

Vasi was barely a top 15 goalie last year.

Eric Seeds

BuT hE wOn ThE vEzInA.

Dan P

I agree… Vasi was waaayyy over-valued because his team was crushing everyone. the Jackets definitely found his hole and just crushed him in the POs.

(hehehehehe… he said “found his hole”)

paledragon

Korpi was .920 and 2.60 in 30 starts as a rookie

Eric Seeds

Ben Bishop got [expletive] hosed, if we’re looking at finalists only. In a just world, John Gibson wins that award last season.

elpalito

PD ..that was a long time ago.

Dan P

Raf, I was just going to say “That feels like it was soooo long ago”

Eric Seeds

It was.

elpalito

Amongst goalies who played more than 27 games....50 of them...korpi was about 47th in HDGSAA.

paledragon

In 2015-16, or last year?

Eric Seeds

Gibson was 26-22-8 last season, 2.84/.917, 12.66 goals saved above average. He should’ve ROMPED to the [expletive] Vezina. Not his fault his team is [expletive].

elpalito

A lot of goalies got dinged for GP.

elpalito

PD, my stat was for Korpi this past season.

Eric Seeds

But really. I don’t think Korpisalo is getting back to his rookie year stats. He got fairly regular work early last season when Bob was struggling and while he won games, it wasn’t on his play. Forwards were scoring. He did not look good really at any point. I remember Korpisalo getting a solid run of games there because the team was winning with him in net, not because he was leading them to wins.He wasn’t good. He hasn’t been league average in any stat since his rookie season. That’s bad.

Dan P

I think the org feels the same way. They fast-tracked Elvis to get him here, and the fact that VV was on the Finland roster for Worlds and Korpi wasn’t?

Dan P

Seems clear to me the org doesn’t think Korpi is going to be the guy.

Poll

Who emerges as the Blue Jackets No. 1 goaltender in 2019-20?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Elvis Merzlikins
    (140 votes)
  • 14%
    Joonas Korpisalo
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    Other
    (9 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now