Veini Vehviläinen may not be a well-known name in Columbus and he may have been drafted in the sixth-round of the 2018 NHL Draft, but he will have a chance to compete with Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo, according to Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
Merzlikins and Korpisalo are the most likely candidates to backstop the Blue Jackets next season, but don't sleep on Vehviläinen – because the young Finnish netminder dominated SM-Liiga.
Over the past two seasons with Karpat in Liiga, Vehviläinen has been awarded the best goaltender trophy back-to-back, won the SM-Liiga Championship in 2018 before leading them back to the Final in 2019, and led the league in goals-against average at 1.58 and in save percentage at .933 in 2019.
It's no secret: there's a new guard between the pipes in Columbus now, with Sergei Bobrovsky departing via free agency and signing a seven-year, $70 million contract with the Florida Panthers. Opportunity is knocking for the young goaltenders in the organization, some of whom (Korpisalo) have spent their career to this point being the No. 2 to a two-time Vezina Trophy winner.
So while the Blue Jackets may not bring in a goalie through free agency, there will be stiff competition for Merzlikins and Korpisalo in the form of Veini Vehviläinen. And they'd better be prepared, as he's rocketing up the depth chart and has the attention of many in the organization.