After a bad year and a serious surgery, Joonas Korpisalo isn’t going anywhere. The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed the pending free agent goaltender to a one-year contract extension for the 2022-23 season. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that the deal is worth $1.3MM.
Korpisalo, 28, underwent hip surgery in early April, ending his season after just 22 appearances. Those games also went poorly, with the netminder posting an .877 save percentage and a whopping 4.15 goals-against average. That followed a 2020-21 season that also ended with disastrous numbers, making the extension surprising at this juncture.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen released a statement to explain:
Joonas has been a consummate pro during his Blue Jackets career and just two years ago was coming off a season in which he was selected to play in the All-Star Game and had a record-setting performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His 2021-22 season was derailed by injury, but we fully believe he will return to form, and are happy that he will continue to be a part of our team.
Still, the Blue Jackets already have their starter Elvis Merzlikins in place, and Korpisalo is taking a serious pay cut on this new contract. He made $3.4MM this season and carried a cap hit of $2.8MM, meaning he’ll cost the team a relatively small amount. With Daniil Tarasov also a pending restricted free agent and Jet Greaves not ready for the NHL, the team did need a second netminder.
Whether he can come back from injury and establish himself as a legitimate option in the NHL again remains to be seen. Four of Korpisalo’s seven seasons in the NHL have finished with a save percentage under .900, and the big netminder has a career number of .902. The team has continued to show plenty of trust in him but has rarely been rewarded, with his best season coming way back in 2015-16 when he posted a .920 save percentage as a rookie.
Of course, there was also that performance in the 2020 bubble playoffs that showed just how much potential there is in the 6’3″ frame. Korpisalo posted a .941 over nine games, including an 85-save performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game that went to a fifth overtime period. If that’s the goaltender they’re signing, $1.3MM will be a huge bargain. If not, this could be his last chance in Columbus.