The goaltender pecking order is set going into the 2022-23 season, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any storylines worth watching in training camp. The Blue Jackets are looking for more consistency between the pipes and improving in that area will be the key to climbing the standings.
Elvis Merzlikins is your number one goalie this season. We have finally come to the place where the tandem, one-two punch goalie lineup is behind us. There’s a clear starter, but that starter needs to show more consistency. There’s no doubt that the skill and compete levels are there for Elvis. He can dazzle with highlight reel saves, but he was also prone to letting in some softies last season. Preseason games aren’t great for predicting a goalie’s regular season performance and training camp in general won’t tell us much, but solid performances in the early games could provide a boost in confidence.
Joonas Korpisalo will be fighting to keep his career alive this season. He is coming off of hip surgery and has been cleared, but don’t expect to see him get too much of a workload prior to the season officially starting. What remains to be seen is how much he will be relied upon during the season. He struggled mightily last season and was one of the worst goalies in the league statistically. Can a return to backup status revitalize his career?
Daniil Tarasov will be the number one goalie for the Cleveland Monsters. The Monsters’ lineup is only a guess at this point, but some possible new faces on defense could give Tarasov an environment to thrive in. Tarasov is also coming off of hip surgery, so don’t expect a heavy preseason workload. Don’t rule out NHL games for Tarasov. If Elvis misses any time due to injury, Tarasov could jump Korpisalo depending on how the Finn’s season is going. This is an important year in Tarasov’s development and he will be someone to keep an eye on all season.
Jet Greaves has worked his way into an entry-level contract and will be the number two in Cleveland this season. The 21 year old earned his stripes in both the ECHL and AHL last season and the organization saw enough to offer the undrafted free agent a contract. He played well in the Traverse City Tournament last week and should be a reliable backup for the Monsters.
Pavel Cajan is the only other under contract goalie in the organization. He’s actually signed to an AHL contract, so he will likely split time between the AHL and Kalamazoo of the ECHL. With Korpisalo and Tarasov likely to see limited action early in training camp, don’t be surprised to see Cajan get some preseason playing time.