The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a one-year, one-way National Hockey League contract for the 2019-20 season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. Merzlikins, who is currently playing for Latvia at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, previously signed a one-year entry level contract with the club for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign on March 20.
Merzlikins, 25, posted a 22-18-0 record with a 2.44 goals-against average (GAA), .921 save percentage (SV%) and a career-high five shutouts in 43 games with Lugano of the Swiss National League (NLA) in 2018-19. He finished the campaign ranked second-T in the league in wins, third-T in shutouts, fourth in save percentage and eighth in goals-against average.
A native of Riga, Latvia, Merzlikins registered a 105-79-7 record with a 2.63 GAA, .920 SV% and 15 shutouts in 210 career NLA games with Lugano. In 2017-18, he captured his second Jacques Plante Trophy as the league's Goaltender of the Year after finishing third-T in the NLA in shutouts, fourth in wins and fifth in SV% with a 19-15-1 record, 2.72 GAA, .921 SV% and four shutouts in 40 contests. He won his first Jacques Plante Trophy in 2015-16 after leading the league in saves (1,484) and ranking second in SV% and fifth in wins with a 23-13-4 record, 2.76 GAA, .922 SV% and a shutout in 44 contests.
The 6-3, 187-pound netminder has represented Latvia in several international tournaments. He was named a top three player for his country at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 IIHF World Championships. In the 2018 tournament, he posted a 1.50 GAA and .940 SV% in six contests. He was selected by the Blue Jackets in the third round, 76th overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft.
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