The Columbus Blue Jackets signing goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year contract extension could spell the end of Joonas Korpisalo's tenure with the club. Brian Hedger of The Columbus Dispatch believes the 27-year-old Finnish netminder will either be traded this season or leave next summer as an unrestricted free agent.
Considered the successor to Sergei Bobrovsky following his departure to the Florida Panthers in 2019, Korpisalo wound up splitting the goaltending duties with Merzlikins. Both netminders slumped last season but Korpisalo won't get much opportunity to improve now that he's Merzlikins' understudy.
Nevertheless, playoff contenders seeking a goaltending upgrade could see Korpisalo as a viable rental option. Tuukka Rask and Devan Dubnyk are the only notables remaining in a thin free-agent market. Rask has indicated his preference to return to the Boston Bruins while Dubnyk struggled last season as a backup with the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche.
The pickings are also slim in the trade market. Last week, The Athletic's Eric Duhatschek included Korpisalo among his list of potential goalie trade candidates along with the Dallas Stars' Braden Holtby, the Detroit Red Wings' Thomas Greiss, Edmonton Oilers' Mikko Koskinen and the Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick.
Korpisalo, however, is younger and the best of the bunch. Holtby, Quick and Greiss are past their primes while Koskinen struggled as a backup in Edmonton.
Heading into his contract year and with something to prove, Korpisalo could become an attractive goalie target by the March trade deadline.