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.

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Elvis Merzlikins

Elvis Merzlikins has made it publicly clear he doesn't want to play as a backup, especially on a cellar dweller in the Metropolitan. The Latvian goaltender is a true competitor and wants his respect, dignity, and legacy known to be a truly reliable goaltender. He is a very athletic, Gumby-like goaltender, and at times has anger he takes out on Tom Wilson. The New Jersey Devils need to target him because he's playing above his head in Columbus. However, he could be much higher playing in New Jersey with guys like Kevin Bahl, Simon Nemec, Luke Hughes, and John Marino up front.

The Devils must use the extra picks they got from other teams via trades. The Blue Jackets not only sending Elvis Merzlikins to NJ would be great, but also sending a 2025 pick since Merzlikins is requesting a trade with a massive contract. Some might find the fixed cost as a positive thing. He does have a modified No Trade Clause through the 2026-2027 season. Having him around for a few seasons is less risky and allows the Devils to piece together better trust in the net and provide a spark for the defense to feel more certainty than what Vitek Vanecek does currently.

Despite some of the antics from Elvis Merzlikins being a bit hot at times, he's not as erratic as Nashville goalie prospect Yaroslav Askarov, who is unproven. The Riga native of Latvia is a proven goaltender and has the potential to do a lot of wonders in the net. Although in a recent few episodes of Locked On Devils with Pucks & Pitchforks' own Trey Matthews, here yours truly who was a bit skeptical of Elvis' play in the net, but certainly the Latvian netminder has a lot he can do wonders for The Garden State of Hockey in the Red and Black.

Analytically Kaapo Kahkonen is the better darling from GSAx to GAA Better Than Expected while doing just well for a bottom-of-the-barrel team in San Jose. The eye test also shows a calmer goalie with a lot fewer antics. But is his competitive level there?

The contract and overall career numbers from shutouts, wins, save percentage, and Goals Allowed Average the guy that has better overall potential is Elvis Merzlikins. He's a veteran netminder and has a very stable career in Columbus. Despite one year of experience in the playoffs, he had a .946 SV% 1.96 GAA in 2 games, with 66/70 saves, going 1-1 in 123 minutes of playoff exposure.