Blue Jackets sign G Merzlikins to $27M contract extension

NHL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)The Columbus Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension, the team announced Tuesday.

Merzlikins will be in the final year of a two-year contract this season with a cap hit of $4 million. The new contract locks him up through the 2026-27 season with an annual salary of about $6.7 million.

”Now I can finally call Columbus my home!” the 27-year-old Latvian said in an Instagram post. ”Couldn’t be happier to stay here!!!”

The long-term deal throws into question the future of Joonas Korpisalo, who has shared time in the net with Merzlikins the last two seasons. Promising netminder Matiss Kivlenieks, considered to be a potential No. 2 for the Blue Jackets this season, was killed in a fireworks accident on July 4.

Merzlikins, a third-round draft pick by Columbus in 2012, has a 21-21-13 record with a 2.54 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and seven shutouts in 61 career NHL games.

Since making his debut with Columbus in 2019, he is tied for fourth in the NHL in save percentage, tied for sixth in shutouts and is 11th in goals-against average among goaltenders with at least 50 games played.

He had developed into a popular star with Lugano in the Swiss National League from 2013 to 2019 before making the jump to the NHL.

”He is big, athletic and has a tremendous passion for the game, and we believe he will be an integral part of our success in the coming years,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.

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