Joonas Korpisalo Is Proving His (Potential Trade) Value This Season

By Will Chase on November 2, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Joonas Korpisalo made 36 saves for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 4-3 shootout win at the New Jersey Devils.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Joonas Korpisalo earned his first win of the year in his third start of the season to defeat the New Jersey Devils on Halloween night.

He had a stellar season debut against the Detroit Red Wings in which he made 43 saves on 45 shots but came up short 4-1 on Oct. 19. Korpisalo also fell to the Carolina Hurricanes—the NHL's lone unbeaten team—5-1 on Oct. 23.

But on Halloween night, he was able to thwart New Jersey all the way down to the shootout, including all three shooters, in Columbus' first shootout victory this year. 

"Yeah, it's nice to win, first win of the season, so it feels good," Korpisalo said. "I wasn't happy with the couple goals in the second period. I think I can be better on those and, you know after that took over. Probably not the best game for us but huge win and it's great not to lose two in a row."

The Blue Jackets wouldn't have made it to a shootout without Boone Jenner's third-period game-tying goal. Korpisalo acknowledged how big Jenner's tally was for the team.

"Yeah that's a huge goal, huge goal in a great time," Korpisalo said. "You know five minutes left in the game to set us up there. Great (penalty kill) in the end so we got advantage from that and (overtime) kind of went back and forth and great game."

The Finnish netminder also mentioned he didn't have anything on the book regarding the shooters he faced in the shootout and that he went with instincts. He also prefers facing more shots in a game.

"Well, obviously, you know, having 30 shots is better than having a couple (of) shots. Kind of gets you into the game," Korpisalo said.

It's great seeing Korpisalo playing well in his few starts of the season thus far. If there was any doubt on the feeling of who might be considered the Blue Jackets No. 1 netminder before the season, it was pretty evident after Elvis Merzlikins signed a five-year contract extension. But that doesn't mean this isn't a huge year for Korpisalo.

Far from it.

Before the season got going against the Arizona Coyotes, 1st Ohio Battery staff came together for a roundtable on a number of topics. I had the following to say about Korpisalo:

"I think Joonas Korpisalo can have a real effective season. He’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder, whether due to Elvis Merzlikins’s contract extension, or just the fact he wants to show he can be a No. 1 goalie for Columbus — or someone else. If he can stay healthy and play well when called upon, it will work out for him one way or the other. Merzlikins has had injury trouble as well and Korpisalo, assuming he channels the passion and energy the right way, could show the org he’s still capable of playing like an All-Star."

Regarding the passion, check out the snarl from Sunday:

According to Aaron Portzline's article in The Athletic on Sunday, trade talks for Korpisalo have already further intensified. And that was before his win later that day. Reportedly, Jarmo Kekalainen had conversations last week of a more serious nature, and three teams that could be in on Korpisalo's services include:

  1. Arizona Coyotes
  2. Buffalo Sabres
  3. Montreal Canadiens

The Coyotes, quite simply, are awful at 0-8-1—the league's only winless team—and have the third-worst save percentage (.901). The Sabres are a surprising 5-2-1 but are they really true contenders? They're boosted by 40-year-old Craig Anderson and 32-year-old Dustin Tokarski, who has limited NHL experience.

Last year's Stanley Cup Final runner-up, the Canadiens, are off to a 2-8-0 record and have already had at least one closed-door team meeting already. Carey Price is away in the NHL/NHLPA's player assistance program, and Jake Allen is 2-6-0 (.907).

What can Columbus fetch for an All-Star in Korpisalo via trade?

Probably a decent draft pick, but even David Savard and Nick Foligno brought back more than decent draft capital.

I spoke with Mark Scheig from The Hockey Writers (starting at 33:00) on my Cutting 2 the Chase podcast before the season and he even listed the Edmonton Oilers as a possible trade candidate. Think about what a true contender is willing to part with.

If any move happens, it seems more like to happen at or near the Mar. 21 trade deadline. Regardless of where the Blue Jackets find themselves in the Metropolitan Division standings, hopefully, Korpisalo can stay healthy and have a solid season throughout.

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