Elvis Merzlikins' Recent Struggles Highlight Potential Split In Off-Season

By Coby Maeir on March 28, 2024 at 10:15 am
Colorado Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin (13) scores a goal past Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) as defenseman Damon Severson (78) and center Casey Mittelstadt (37) and left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) look on in the third period at Ball Arena.
© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Over his last three starts, Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins has allowed 18 goals (six goals in each start), posting an .841SV% and -4.9 goals saved above expected (GSAx), per EvolvingHockey.

One moment that stuck out from the team's 6-2 loss was when Dylan Guenther ran over Merzlikins at 17:00 of the third period, leaving Merzlikins shaken up. While a goalie's teammates usually make a fuss over an opponent contacting the goalie after the whistle, nobody seemed to come to Merzlikins' defense as Guenther was lying in the crease. Does that show how Merzlikins' teammates feel about him?

Regardless, his performance this season doesn't justify his contract, which carries a $5.4M cap hit through the 2026-27 season. 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the financial implications of moving on from him in the off-season, whether that's via buyout or trade.

Buying Out Or Trading Merzlikins
Year Buyout Cap Hit/Savings Retain 25% Cap Hit/Savings Retain 30% Cap Hit/Savings Retain 50% Cap Hit/Savings
2024-25 $1.15M/$4.25M $1.35M/$4.05M $1.62M/$3.78M $2.7M/$2.7M
2025-26 $1.625M/$3.775M $1.35M/$4.05M $1.62M/$3.78M $2.7M/$2.7M
2026-27 $2.95M/$2.45M $1.35M/$4.05M $1.62M/$3.78M $2.7M/$2.7M
2027-28 $1.75M/-$1.75M $0/$0 $0/$0 $0/$0
2028-29 $1.75M/-$1.75M $0/$0 $0/$0 $0/$0
2029-30 $1.75M/-$1.75M $0/$0 $0/$0 $0/$0
Total After 3 Years $5.7M/$10.5M $4.05M/$12.15M $4.86M/$11.34M $8.1M/$8.1M
Total From Years 4-6 $5.25M/-$5.25M $0/$0 $0/$0 $0/$0

As we get closer to the off-season, it seems more and more likely that Merzlikins' days in Columbus are numbered. 

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