Skip to content

Waddell plans to keep Merzlikins: 'Nobody' is trading for that contract

Ben Jackson / National Hockey League / Getty

It appears Elvis won't be leaving the building.

New Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations and general manager Don Waddell was candid about Elvis Merzlikins' trade value around the league due to his contract.

"Let's be honest, nobody is going to trade for that contract. Nobody," Waddell told The Athletic's Aaron Portzline. "People say, 'Well, why don't you buy out the contract?' It's a six-year buyout, and there are Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, when you might need that cap space.

"So you've eliminated those two options."

Merzlikins said the Blue Jackets agreed to find the netminder "a new scenario" in January, but a deal never came to fruition at the deadline under the previous regime. He said he wanted to be "treated as (a) No. 1" goalie.

The 30-year-old has three years left on his contract with a $5.4-million cap hit - the 10th-richest among NHL goalies. A buyout would go as follows:

Season Initial cap hit Buyout cap hit
2024-25 $5.4M $1.15M
2025-26 $5.4M $1.625M
2026-27 $5.4M $2.925M
2027-28 N/A $1.75M
2028-29 N/A $1.75M
2029-30 N/A $1.75M

Merzlikins posted an .897 save percentage and a 3.45 goals against average in 41 games lasts season. However, those lackluster surface stats were partially due to playing for a poor defensive team, as he still stopped 3.48 goals above expected, per Evolving-Hockey.

The Latvian burst onto the scene as a rookie replacing Sergei Bobrovsky in 2019-20, finishing fifth in both Calder Trophy voting and Vezina Trophy voting while recording a .923 save percentage in 33 games. He registered save percentages of .916 in 2020-21 and .907 in 2021-22.

Merzlikins projects to battle for starts with Daniil Tarasov in 2024-25.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox