Trade market for Blue Jackets G Merzlikins 'pretty soft'
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun said Tuesday on Insider Trading that a move involving the disgruntled netminder may have to wait until the off-season.
"No, there are no takers right now. The market is pretty soft for him. Why? He’s got three more years on his contract after this year at $5.4 million," LeBrun said. "I get that there’s maybe a mutual desire to have him move on, but he’s going to have to play a lot better when he gets a chance in goal to really reignite his marketplace before March 8.
"I see this as more of a summer move. I could be wrong."
Merzlikins said Monday he has requested a trade from the team, clarifying comments he made last week that both sides had mutually discussed a move.
“I’m really happy for the boys,” the 29-year-old said after a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. “After my last interview, everybody knows I requested a trade. Everyone was still here, playing for me, and blocking shots me. This was awesome. I really appreciate that.
"It wasn’t an easy game for me, and they made me feel (better).”
Merzlikins recorded 27 saves in Monday's win, which marked his first game action since Dec. 29. He has record of 8-8-6 on the season with a .906 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against average.
Signed through the 2026-27 season at a $5.4 million cap hit, Merzlikins slipped to third on the depth chart this month with Spencer Martin and Daniil Tarasov splitting starts in Columbus. He spoke out last week on his diminished role, stating conversations about a trade had taken place with the team.
"I just want to be treated as the No. 1. I believe I am the No. 1", Merzlikins told the media on Friday. "It didn't get to the point where I'm requesting [a trade]. It went to the point where both sides agreed.
"Now, I didn't speak to anybody. My agent and [Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen] spoke. Both sides agreed. Now what's going to happen, I have no idea. If I get to play, I'll give my best because the boys deserve the best. This is my family, I'm dead serious. I grew up here in my NHL career and to me, these players are my brothers."
"I want to play. I'm not going to be No. 3, I can assure you of that," he added. "Especially with the hard work I did mentally and physically this summer. I just want to play my game."
Selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, Merzlikins has spent his entire NHL career in Columbus. Over five seasons, he has recorded a 63-70-28 record with a 3.15 GAA and .906 save percentage.