Goaltending was not a strength of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2021-22 season. Elvis Merzlikins entered the season dealing with the death of his friend, Joonas Korpisalo was in a contract year and looking to rebound from a bad prior season, and not much ended up going well. There were some bright spots down the stretch, but one thing remains clear going into next season — play in the goalie crease must be better if this team wants to make some noise.
Elvis Merzlikins - The Latvian saw lots of ups and downs last season, but the upcoming season will provide a fresh start. The main difference entering 2022-23 will be that Elvis is the clear cut number one goalie. No more tandem nonsense. No more sharing the net. We haven’t seen all there is to see with Elvis yet and a renewed confidence and focus could turn the tide for him. He did perform much better down the stretch in April, recording a .926 save percentage in 13 games played — an encouraging sign for next season.
Joonas Korpisalo - Many thought we’d seen the last of Korpisalo in a Blue Jackets sweater. The Columbus veteran took a pay cut and a likely demotion to pure backup to remain with the Jackets when he signed a one year, $1.3 million contract extension in May. Redemption will be on the mind of Korpisalo and he’ll be out to prove he still belongs in the NHL. Expect a short leash, however, with Tarasov lurking in Cleveland.
Daniil Tarasov - The large Russian goalie was a bright spot in net last season. In the four games he played in, he boasted a .937 save percentage, allowing only 7 goals on 111 shots. Tarasov will be the number one goalie in Cleveland, but don’t be surprised if he gets a few games in Columbus. If Merzlikins misses any time due to illness or injury, Tarasov could jump Korpisalo and get the starts. In a show of confidence, the club signed him to a three year contract extension last month.
With that new $1 million cap hit, Daniil Tarasov is going to be the answer to the question "who is the biggest bargain in the NHL?" sooner than later.— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) June 15, 2022
Jet Greaves - The number two in Cleveland is 21 year old Jet Greaves. Greaves hasn’t put up any monster numbers in the OHL, ECHL, or AHL, but the organization sees enough in him to have him under contract.
In the Pipeline
Sergei Ivanov - 2022 5th round pick
What will be the biggest headline in net for the Blue Jackets next season? Can Elvis become a top goalie? Can Korpisalo return to being a legitimate NHL backup? How will Tarasov perform in Cleveland?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.