The Columbus Blue Jackets may be getting another big prospect into the organization sooner than later as The Athletic’s Tom Reed reports that goaltending prospect Elvis Merzlikins will likely soon sign an entry-level deal now that his Swiss League team has been eliminated. The 24-year-old prospect could find himself battling for Columbus’ starting goaltending job next season.
Expect that in the next few days, the Blue Jackets sign Merzlikins, who has been the starting goaltender for Lugano for the last six years, get his immigration papers in order and get him to Cleveland of the AHL to get into as much action as possible before the end of the season. The 24-year-old had an impressive season in the Swiss League with a .921 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA in 43 games this season. A third-round pick in 2014, Merzlikins has opted to stay overseas since drafted, but suggested last summer that he might come over this season. With Sergei Bobrovsky likely headed elsewhere in free agency this summer, the team could give Merzlikins a shot at the starting job.
- Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux may miss his first game in more than three years as interim head coach Scott Gordon said that Giroux is ill and will be a game-time decision Sunday, according to Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi. The 31-year-old has played in 256 straight games, dating back to February of 2016. If he can’t play, Justin Bailey will replace Giroux who has 20 goals and 76 points this season for Philadelphia.
- The New Jersey Devils are without forward Miles Wood once again Sunday as he will continue to sit out with a right ankle fracture despite making the West Coast trip with the team, according to Chris Ryan of NJ.com. Wood, who has been out since Feb. 25, remains day-to-day. The 23-year-old hasn’t been as effective for New Jersey after a breakout 19-goal season a year ago as he has eight goals and 21 points in 56 games this season.
- Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos stated on Hockey Night in Canada late last night that Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith could draw quite a bit of interest as a head coaching candidate this offseason. Smith was considered a top candidate for the New York Islanders job before Barry Trotz came available and took the position. Smith may get quite a bit of interest from the Ottawa Senators this summer. Ottawa considered Smith back in 2016, but Toronto rejected their request to interview him. They hired Guy Boucher instead.