Elvis Merzlikins vs. Kaapo Kahkonen: Finding New Jersey a Better Fit In Net

The New Jersey Devils could go after a variety of options on the trade market, but who would be better between Kaapo Kahkonen and Elvis Merzlikins? We weighed in everything from analytics to the eye test plus overall career stats.
San Jose Sharks v Arizona Coyotes
San Jose Sharks v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The New Jersey Devils might have a leg up when trading with the San Jose Sharks. Current Sharks general manager Mike Greer was most recently an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. The Devils ended up winning the Timo Meier sweepstakes last season, so maybe another trade between the two teams is on the horizon.

The Sharks need more draft picks to stockpile for the 2024 and 2025 NHL Draft. San Jose already has conditions on the Devils second-round pick that could make it a first this year, but the Sharks might target a deal with the Devils that removes those conditions and gives them the pick. Enter goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.

Since Kaapo Kahkonen is playing in front of a Sharks team that has little to play for, he is doing just fine but could perform better in front of a New Jersey Devils team that needs another solid goalie other than Nico Daws. According to Money Puck, the Finnish netminder's Goals Save Above Expected per 60 is 35th in the NHL, above Carter Hart and just below Igor Shesterkin in that category.

Kahkonen has a lot of upside and could benefit from playing in the Garden State and maybe improve his GSAx playing behind this defense. San Jose originally got Kaapo Kahkonen and a 5th-round pick from Minnesota for defenseman Jake Middleton. So if Tom Fitzgerald is wise, it's safe to say he would be worth a Colorado 5th in 2024 and toss in 2025 7th from Las Vegas via NJ.

A contract extension should be worked out because he will be a UFA this offseason. Don't expect a lot of leverage from San Jose since they are still in a rebuild and the Devils looking to amp up the goalie game. It will be a good conundrum to have to fix the goalie situation with a netminder who has been good at stealing a Draft Lottery Team a few games here and there.