The Columbus Blue Jackets have re-signed some of their goaltending depth, reaching a two-year deal with Matiss Kivlenieks. The contract is two-way and gives the Blue Jackets a goaltender to leave exposed for the upcoming Seattle expansion draft.
In that case, the Blue Jackets are in a perfect situation even if they keep both their NHL goalies. Joonas Korpisalo is eligible for the expansion draft but Elvis Merzlikins isn’t, meaning they don’t have to make the decision on which one to keep this offseason if they don’t want. Both Korpisalo and Merzlikins have been in trade rumors over the last few weeks because of players like Kivlenieks, who is an interesting prospect in his own right.
Now 24, the undrafted Latvian netminder has been in the Columbus system for three years now. He has been inconsistent in the minor leagues but did at least hold his own in six NHL games this season. No, that .898 save percentage is not what you’re hoping for at the highest level, but in terms of a depth option that could be number four on the chart, it’s certainly no disaster.
The Blue Jackets also have Veini Vehvilainen and Daniil Tarasov under contract, meaning even if they do trade one of their NHL netminders the system still has enough talent to stand up. Kivlenieks will likely go back to the minor leagues when things get started, but now that he’s signed it seems probable that he’ll be loaned overseas like Vehvilainen and Tarasov.