Fantasy Summary

Skilled, large and experienced netminder with a seemingly bright future further honing his game in Europe as Bobrovsky’s contract runs its course.


Observations

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April 2020 – Elvis took the league by storm in 2020 after taking over the crease in late December. Despite a shaky start to his rookie season, the 25-year-old has surely earned the respect of his peers and should be considered a high-level talent for the future. Of course, with both his and Joonas Korpisalo’s contracts up this summer, things could get interesting in Ohio. With cap restrictions looming, it seems unlikely that both netminders return in 2020-21. However, no one will know for sure until July 1st. Fantasy owners must keep an eye out for what transpires, but hold on tight to your asset as there is definite keeper potential here. Dave Hall

January 2020 – It’s no secret that his first looks in the league were a great disappointment, going winless through his first nine starts. Fast-forward to January and the Latvian sensation has been one of the best feel-good stories of the year. With Korpisalo falling to injury just after the holiday break, the 25-year-old was given a second chance at redemption, and boy did he run with it. Since gaining number-one status, he’s posted a stellar 5-2-0 record,  while his 1.88 goals against and .943 save-percentage are amongst the best in the league. He also enjoyed his first career shutout, closing the door with a 27-save effort against the Vegas Golden Knight’s. It’s hard to predict what will happen once his counterpart returns from his ailment but until then, fantasy owners must enjoy the ride and hold onto him tight. We may just be getting a glimpse of the future here. Dave Hall

December 2019 – The Latvian net-minder is still searching for his first career NHL victory. Although one can argue he has played better than his records show, the Jacket’s number-two backstop sports a disappointing 3.30 GAA and .894 save percentage to go with a 0-4-3 record. Columbus has sent the 24-year-old down to the farm for two games this season where he picked up his first pro-victory, surrendering only three goals between the two games. These assignments were aimed to give the struggling goaltender a couple of extra starts in hopes of a much-needed confidence boost. Although losing his job at the NHL level seems highly unlikely, Elvis will need to find a way to get his game going soon before the club starts to look at other options in their depth chart. Dave Hall

October 2019 – After a respectable tenure with Lugano of the Swiss League (NLA), Elvis Merzlikins made his anticipated NHL debut for the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately, the Latvian netminder had a night to forget, surrendering seven goals on 40 shots and finished with a .825 save percentage. Do not let one game fool you though, Merzlikins has shown overseas that he can play at a high level (posting a .921 save percentage in both of his past two seasons) and could blame this one on some debut jitters. Elvis starts the year as the team’s No. 2 goaltender, but challenging his counterpart (Joonas Korpisalo) for the starter position should not be out of the question. Dave Hall

June 2019 – Merzlikins had a pretty decent season in 2018-19. In 43 regular season games, the Latvian netminder posted a 2.44 GAA and a .921 save percentage for HC Lugano of the NLA. Those numbers prompted the Blue Jackets to sign him to a one-year entry-level contract. With the expected departure of Bobrovsky this off-season, Merzlikins should contend for a backup role. There is certainly fantasy value to be had in keeper leagues if he wins the job in the near future. Frank Pellegrini

March 2019 – Merzlikins has signed a one-year entry level contract with the Blue Jackets. He is coming off of a stellar season with Lugano of the Swiss National League (NLA). There, he finished second among all goaltenders in wins, third in shutouts and fourth in save percentage. As per Blue Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen, “Elvis is a big, athletic goaltender who is ready to take the next step in his career. We think he is the best goaltender outside of the NHL right now and we are excited about his future with our organization.” Very high praise from one of the club’s best talent evaluators. With Sergei Bobrovsky possibly departing this offseason, the future for Merzlikins would seem to involve a competition for full-time duties next fall. Frank Pellegrini

January 2019 – Merzlikins has been named the Latvian Hockey Player of the Year. It was not a close race as he received 25 more first-place votes than the second place player (Zemgus Girgensons). Frank Pellegrini

November 2018 – Merzlikins has opted to stay in Europe for the 2018-2019 campaign. He will play out the final year remaining on his contract with Lugano of the Swiss-A league. The 24-year-old Latvian native has the tools to be a star goaltender but he will be a free agent in two years. With time running out, the Blue Jackets will need to sign him soon to find out if he will be their goalie of the future. Frank Pellegrini

February 2018 – Merzlikins has led HC Lugano to fourth place, just six points out of the top spot in the Swiss NLA while guarding the net in 40 of their 47 contests this campaign. His .920 save percentage ranks seventh and his 2.76 goals eighth among regularly-starting league goaltenders. Kevin Wickersham

December 2017 – Continuing as one of the top NLA goalies, Merzlikins has focused on being a bit less “busy” in net this year, conserving his movement and maintaining composure. His .919 save percentage with HC Lugano ranks sixth in the high scoring Swiss NLA, and his 2.71 goals against average is good for eighth. Kevin Wickersham

October 2017 – Merzlikins’ early campaign has gone well as he’s among NLA leaders with a .925 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against after seven HC Lugano contests. He’s added three wins in this, his fifth year of play with the squad. Kevin Wickersham

July 2017 – Despite Joonas Korpisalo’s NHL experience, Daniil Tarasov’s great promise, and Matiss Kivlenieks’ USHL heroics, the well-decorated and big-bodied Merzlikins may have the highest ceiling of any emerging Blue Jacket goalie prospect. His recent work at the 2017 IIHF World Championship was stellar (.937 SV% in six contests) in leading Team Latvia over Italy, Slovakia and Denmark, and limiting a high-powered Sweden squad to just two goals. He earned the 2016 Jacques Plante Trophy as Swiss National League A top goalie with a 2.76 goals against and .922 save percentage, adding a 2.32 goals against average and .937 save percentage during HC Lugano’s 15-game postseason run to the Finals. Merzlikins previously garnered NLA 2014 Rookie of the Year honors. Under contract through the 2018-19 campaign without NHL/KHL escape clauses, he’ll further develop in well-known surroundings. His calm, focused style even while fending off a barrage of pucks serves him well, and shows growth as some scouts knocked his composure in prior years. A skilled stick handler who handles rebounds well and isn’t afraid to challenge approaching skaters by leaving the crease. Like fellow Blue Jacket prospect Kivlenieks, the butterfly-style Merzlikins hails from Riga, Latvia. Kevin Wickersham

Attributes
Fantasy Upside 8.0
NHL Certainty 8.5
Country LAT
Position G
Roster Type NHL
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth April 13, 1994
Height 6‘3”
Weight 187 lbs
Drafted 2014 Round 3; Overall: 76

Stats

 Season Team League GP GAA SVS%      Playoffs GP GAA SVS%
 2009-2010 Lugano U17U17-Elit25 3.05 -|Playoffs12 3.29 -
  Lugano U20U20-Elit0 - -|      
 2010-2011 Lugano U17U17-Elit28 3.95 -|Playoffs5 3.80 -
  Latvia U17EYOF3 3.95 .885|      
  Latvia U17 (all)International-Jr4 - -|      
  Latvia U18WJC-18 D12 0.50 .978|      
  Latvia U18 (all)International-Jr3 - -|      
 2011-2012 Lugano U20U20-Elit8 3.52 -|Playoffs3 5.07 -
  Pregassona CeresioSwissDiv10 - -|      
  Latvia U18WJC-184 4.88 .885|      
  Latvia U18 (all)International-Jr8 - -|      
  Latvia U20WJC-201 14.00 .720|      
  Latvia U20 (all)International-Jr3 - -|      
 2012-2013 LuganoNL0 - -|Playoffs0 - -
  Lugano U20U20-Elit30 2.76 -|Playoffs4 3.84 -
  Latvia U20WJC-203 5.85 .860|      
  Latvia U20 (all)International-Jr7 - -|      
 2013-2014 LuganoNL22 2.13 .924|Playoffs1 0.75 .976
  Lugano U20U20-Elit12 2.07 -|Playoffs10 1.68 -
  Latvia U20WJC-20 D1A3 2.36 .900|      
  Latvia U20 (all)International-Jr4 - -|      
  Latvia (all)International1 2.08 -|      
 2014-2015 LuganoNL22 2.61 .913|Playoffs1 3.25 .846
  LuganoSwiss Cup1 2.00 -|      
  Latvia (all)International4 4.65 .813|      
 2015-2016 LuganoNL46 2.76 .922|Playoffs15 2.32 .937
  LuganoSwiss Cup0 - -|      
  LuganoSpengler Cup4 3.01 .907|      
  LatviaWC5 2.91 .912|      
  Latvia (all)International8 2.68 .922|      
 2016-2017 LuganoNL41 2.89 .916|Playoffs11 2.29 .933
  LuganoChampions HL6 2.15 .939|      
  LatviaOGQ2 1.32 .931|      
  LuganoSwiss Cup0 - -|      
  LuganoSpengler Cup4 2.14 .940|      
  LatviaWC6 1.98 .937|      
  Latvia (all)International11 1.78 .938|      
 2017-2018 LuganoNL42 2.72 .921|Playoffs18 2.17 .935
  LuganoSwiss Cup0 - -|      
  LatviaWC6 1.50 .940|      
  Latvia (all)International7 1.56 .937|      
 2018-2019 LuganoNL43 2.44 .921|Playoffs4 3.95 .872
  LuganoChampions HL8 2.27 .923|      
  LuganoSwiss Cup0 - -|      
  LatviaWC5 2.78 .914|      
  Latvia (all)International5 2.78 .914|      
 2019-2020 Columbus Blue JacketsNHL33 2.35 .923|Playoffs2 1.96 .946
  Cleveland MonstersAHL2 1.52 .949|      
 2020-2021 Columbus Blue JacketsNHL- - -|      

Highlights