The situation involving the New Jersey Devils and the potential trade for goalie Elvis Merzlikins from the Columbus Blue Jackets is quite complex. Merzlikins has publicly expressed his desire to be traded from Columbus, particularly after being demoted to the third-string netminder. This has sparked interest from several teams, including the Devils, who are in need of a reliable goaltender.
Merzlikins' contract is a significant factor in the trade discussions. He is currently in the second year of a five-year contract with a cap hit of $5.4 million. While this might be seen as high, it is lower than some other options considered by the Devils, such as John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks and Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames. Merzlikins is also younger than these goalies, potentially making him a more appealing long-term investment.
The Devils' current goaltending situation is challenging. Vitek Vanecek, their top option, has been struggling, and their other young goalies are not yet ready to assume the starting role. The team is further along in its rebuilding process than the Blue Jackets, making a goalie like Merzlikins a suitable addition. However, the Devils are cautious about the remaining contract commitment with Merzlikins, and his personality, which some general managers might find brash, adds another layer of consideration.
Despite these challenges, Merzlikins could be a valuable addition for the Devils. His performance, while not stellar this season, shows potential for improvement, especially if playing for a more talented team. Moreover, his recent performances have been closely monitored, and any future games will likely influence the trade discussions.
It's important to note that while the Devils are a potential destination, other teams are also in the mix. The trade market for goalies is hot, and Merzlikins' situation is being closely followed. However, as of now, there are no definitive takers for Merzlikins, with some suggesting that a trade might be more likely in the summer due to the complexities of his contract and current performance.
For more detailed information and ongoing updates, you can refer to the sources: New Jersey Hockey Now, The Hockey Writers, PressReader, and NHL Rumors