The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that netminder Jon Gillies has been recalled from their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, on an emergency basis. The move comes after starting netminder Elvis Merzlikins suffered an apparent leg injury during the team’s 8-2 loss last night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Veteran Michael Hutchinson entered last night’s game in relief for Merzlikins and is now likely to take over the starter’s crease for as long as Merzlikins is sidelined. Hutchinson was acquired at the trade deadline from the Vegas Golden Knights in the Blue Jackets’ Jonathan Quick trade and has appeared in eight games in Columbus.
He hasn’t been great in that span and has a .874 save percentage, but it’s important to note that Hutchinson has often been placed in less-than-ideal circumstances having to enter games in relief for other goalies.
Hutchinson in total has played 15 games this season, those eight with Columbus and seven in the AHL with the Golden Knights’ affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. He posted a 1-5-1 record and an .897 save percentage with Henderson but does have a .917 career save percentage in the AHL.
The Blue Jackets’ newest netminder is Gillies, 29, a 2012 second-round pick who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes when Columbus sent Jakub Voracek’s contract to the desert.
The former college hockey star was the backup for five games with AHL Cleveland and has played a total of 15 games this season, all for Arizona’s AHL affiliate. Gillies has a career .893 save percentage in 32 NHL games, with 19 of them coming with the New Jersey Devils last season.
Both Gillies and Hutchinson are on expiring league-minimum two-way contracts this season, meaning the rest of this season serves as an important opportunity for each to put some solid starts on tape and give themselves the best possible footing to enter the offseason.