Blue Jackets Considering Moving Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo For Scoring, Per Report

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 31, 2020 at 7:00 am
July 30, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo #70 of the Columbus Blue Jackets congratulates fellow netminder Elvis Merzlikins #90 after an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on July 30, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. The Blue Jackets defeated the Bruins 4-1.
Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports

If the Blue Jackets want to acquire more offensive skill, they'll have to let someone valuable go.

It could soon be time for the Blue Jackets to bid farewell to one of their two talented, high-caliber goaltenders. 

According to a report from Elliotte Friedman in his weekly "31 Thoughts", the Blue Jackets "would consider moving one of (Korpisalo and Merzlikins) for some scoring. It makes sense. The Blue Jackets' goaltender pipeline is extremely talented. After Merzlikins and Korpisalo, there's Matiss Kivlenieks, who saw NHL time this past year and went 4-1-1. 

Veini Vehvilainen is also waiting in the wings, and he may have a higher ceiling than Kivlenieks. His rookie year in Cleveland had its ups and downs, but he's only 23, like Kivlenieks. Overseas, Daniil Tarasov, who is only 21, continues to develop. 

With that in mind, the Blue Jackets can afford to part with Korpisalo or Merzlikins, although it would certainly sting. As we saw in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets can get excellent goaltending from either one of them, but the thing they couldn't get enough of was offense. 

They finished 28th out of 31 teams for goals scored during the regular season (180), but finished third for goals against (187). Getting a healthy Josh Anderson back will be a big boost, and Mikhail Grigorenko may be able to pitch in a little bit, but the Blue Jackets are unfortunately still an Artemi Panarin and/or Matt Duchene away from being Stanley Cup contenders.

With the Blue Jackets' current talent level, they can only get so far. If they bolster their roster with some offensive talent, they'll be able to deal with the loss of Korpisalo or Merzlikins, thanks to the defensive corps that will be in place.

The Blue Jackets have no unrestricted free agents, so they won't have a lot of cap space this offseason, especially after they sign restricted free agents Pierre-Luc Dubois, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Anderson. In order to bring an infusion of dynamic forwards to Columbus, GM Jarmo Kekalainen's going to have to pull some tricks out of his sleeve, and trading either Merzlikins or Korpisalo just might be what needs to happen to bring a Stanley Cup to the Blue Jackets.

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