It was quite the debut season for Elvis Merzlikins.
After starting poorly, the Latvian goaltender turned it around and had a season to remember. In the 31 games that he started, he notched a 13-9-8 record with a .923 save percentage and 2.35 goals allowed average (GAA).
The folks over at NHL.com were impressed by Merzlikins' season, and they rated him the number one rookie over the age 25 in the NHL. Per Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com, Merzlikins ranks first among rookie goalies (at least 15 games played) with a .926 save percentage at even strength despite getting the least goal support (2.35 goals-for average) of any first-year goalie with at least that many games played.
Even with the lack of offensive help, he was in the discussion for the Calder Trophy, and who could forget his streak of three shutouts in four games (all wins) against Vegas, Boston, Carolina, and New Jersey?
With Joonas Korpisalo signing a two-year extension on Friday, Merzlikins will have his work cut out for him to get the starting role next season (or the continuation of this season), but it's likely that he's got a bit of an edge on Korpisalo heading into training camp.
With Korpisalo and Merzlikins, the Blue Jackets have a solid tandem of goaltenders going into next season — a position that was a big question mark heading into the 2019-20 season.