The Columbus Blue Jackets made a bold statement when they signed goalie Elvis Merzlikins to a 5-year extension back in September, and many thought that move sealed fellow netminder Joonas Korpisalo’s fate with the organization.  The crease in Columbus simply isn’t big enough for the team to keep both around when Korpisalo is entering free agency and hasn’t played very well this season (3.95 GAA, .882 SV%) for the struggling Jackets.  

It seemed unfathomable just a couple seasons ago that the team would be looking to move the 27-year-old after his remarkable 2019-2020 playoff run when he posted a 1.90 GAA, .941 SV%, and 2 shutouts in 9 playoff games, including breaking the all-time saves record for a single game, stopping 85 shots in a heartbreaking game one loss to the eventual champions – the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Several teams are rumoured to be interested in the 6’3″ Finn, hoping he can regain that form ahead of a potential cup run, with The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek suggesting the possibility of a Korpisalo trade is high.

Here are 3 potential destinations for the struggling goalie:

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are freefalling through the standings, losing 12 of their last 14 games, often looking outmatched and outworked on the ice despite owning one of the more talented rosters in the entire NHL.  While this team has many roster holes they need to fill regarding their depth and toughness, the Oilers could use a different look in net as well, as 39-year-old Mike Smith has been injured on and off all season, and the Oilers have let in an average of four goals per game over their last 14 games – that hardly screams “Stanley Cup Contender”.
While Korpisalo has struggled this season, the Oilers should make the call to see what it would take to acquire him, although it’s unknown if Columbus would be willing to take back Mikko Koskinen in a potential deal, as they already have Daniil Tarasov pegged as their backup.

Colorado Avalanche

After starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper left Monday’s game against the Minnesota Wild with an injury, the Avalanche’s search for another goaltender should have been kicked into overdrive.  This is the second time this season the notoriously injury-prone Kuemper has had an ailment, and his backup Pavel Francouz isn’t exactly Ironman, himself.  The Avalanche should enter the Joonas Korpisalo sweepstakes, and soon.  With the Avalanche expected to contend for a Stanley Cup this season, the time to make a move is now, and it would be devastating if nagging injuries to their goaltenders were the main cause of their failure to reach that goal.

Washington Capitals

It has been reported that Washington is in the market for a goaltender, and Joonas Korpisalo would be a relatively cheap option for the 22-9-9 Capitals, who have been previously liked to the Chicago Blackhawk’s Marc-Andre Fleury, the Vancouver Canucks’ Braden Holtby, and the L.A. Kings’ Jonathan Quick.  Korpisalo’s cap hit of $2.8 million pales in comparison to both Quick ($5.8 million) and Fleury ($7 million), and if he has a resurgence of sorts in Washington, he could be playing ahead of their young tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.  
While a Braden Holtby reunion wouldn’t be nearly as costly as the aforementioned players, as Holtby carries a cap hit of just $2 million, it is unknown how much the Capitals would be willing to give up for a player they let walk away in free agency just two seasons ago. 

Photo Credit: © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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