According to Gavin Lee of Pro Hockey Rumors, the Columbus Blue Jackets have signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins of Riga, Latvia to a two-year contract extension worth $8 million on Thursday. Merzlikins entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, and with the signing, he will see a significant pay raise. The European rookie netminder was only making $874, 125 this season.
To say that Merzlikins was having a breakout season at the time of the National Hockey League pause is an understatement. At the time of the NHL pause due to coronavirus, he was simply brilliant.
In 33 games this season, Merzlikins had a respectable record of 13 wins, nine regulation losses and eight losses in extra time. However, he also had five shutouts, an excellent save percentage of .923 and an equally impressive goals against average of 2.35, considering the fact that he was in his first NHL season. There is no doubt that Merzlikins has evolved into one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Merzlikins’s five shutouts at the time of the NHL pause were the second most in the NHL. Only Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Helleybuyck of Commerce, Michigan has had more shutouts in the NHL this season as he has six. Merzlikins’s shutouts in 2019-20 came in a 3-0 Blue Jackets win over the Vegas Golden Knights on January 11 (27 saves), in a 3-0 Blue Jackets win over the Boston Bruins on January 14 (34 saves), in a 5-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on January 18 (41 saves), in a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers on February 4 (32 saves) and in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on February 7 (16 saves).
Merzlikins saw the bulk of his action with Joonas Korpisalo of Pori, Finland out with a knee injury. Korpisalo was signed to a contract extension by the Blue Jackets earlier in the week. On Monday, Columbus signed their other goaltender to a two-year contract worth $5.6 million.