Blue Jackets Sign Goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a Three-Year Entry-Level Contract

By 1OB Staff on May 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm
Matiss Kivlenieks has signed with Columbus
Dan Hickling-Hickling Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets currently boast one of the best goaltenders in hockey at the top of the depth chart in Sergei Bobrovsky. But behind the Russian netminder and Vezina favorite, the Blue Jackets keep adding depth.

The latest addition came today when the team announced the signing of Matiss Kivlenieks, a native of Latvia who spent last year with Sioux City of the USHL, America's top junior hockey league.

The 6-2, 184-pounder was dominant for the Musketeers last season, playing in 49 games and finishing the season with a 36-7-4-2 record, a .932 save percentage and five shutouts. He led nearly every statistical category in the league including wins and save percentage and was named not just the league's top goaltender but its top player as well.

Kivlenieks was committed to Minnesota State to play college hockey but the 20-year-old (he'll be 21 by the time next season starts) has decided to bypass that route after being pursued by a cadre of NHL squads. 

He first came to the United States in 2013-14 and joined the NAHL, the American Tier II league, two seasons ago. Kivlenieks put up solid numbers there (2.41 GAA, .925 SV%) with Coulee Region before his successful USHL debut this year.

He is the second Latvian goaltender to join the Blue Jackets prospect pool, the other being 2014 draft pick Elvis Merzlikins, who plays for HC Lugano in Latvia and also was on the country's World Championships team.

In addition to those two and Bobrovsky, Columbus also has two goaltenders with NHL experience in the system in youngsters Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg, though both are restricted free agents.

There's also 23-year-old Oscar Dansk, a 2012 second-round pick who returned to North America late last season after spending the year in his native Sweden. He was called up to the team just before the playoffs began to provide an extra body but is now a restricted free agent with his entry-level deal expiring.

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