Blue Jackets sign goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to one-year contract extension

·3 min read
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo signed a one-year contract extension on Friday.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo signed a one-year contract extension on Friday.

The past two years haven’t been easy for Joonas Korpisalo.

After the Blue Jackets goaltender caught national attention with an 85-save performance in a five-overtime game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Toronto playoff bubble nearly two years ago, his play dipped. Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins shared the net last season, but this year, as Korpisalo battled through multiple injuries, Merzlikins emerged as the starter.

To cap off the challenging period, Korpisalo's season came to an early end this year as he underwent hip surgery He made 22 appearances for the Jackets this season with a 7-11-0 record, a save percentage of .877 — the lowest of his career — and a goals-against average of 4.15.

But despite it all, the Jackets have maintained belief that Korpisalo is an NHL-caliber goaltender. They affirmed that belief Friday as they signed him to a one-year, $1.3 million contract extension. Korpisalo would have become an unrestricted free agent July 13.

"Joonas has been a consummate pro during his Blue Jackets career and just two years ago was coming of a season in which he was selected to play in the All-Star Game and had a record-setting performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. "His 2021-22 season was derailed by injury, but we fully believe he will return to form, and are happy that he will continue to be a part of our team."

The new deal is a pay cut from the $3.4 million Korpisalo was paid this past season, but it will allow him an opportunity to re-establish himself. It also gives the Jackets a second goaltender under contract alongside Merzlikins, with rookie goaltender Daniil Tarasov still a pending restricted free agent.

“The last couple of years have been pretty awful, so I’m just really, really hungry to get back there and prove people (wrong),” Korpisalo told The Dispatch. “Getting back on my level, especially with a new, healthy hip. I’m really excited about it.”

Korpisalo said April 30 that he hadn’t thought about his contract situation, but it didn’t take long for the deal to come together.

“It was pretty quick,” Korpisalo said. “A week after the season ended, had a couple talks with Jarmo and had a good talk with (coach Brad Larsen) right after the season, so we were both on the same page with Jarmo. We found a mutual agreement pretty quickly. I’m really happy about this.”

Korpisalo said in April that he’d been playing through the injury for at least four years, but it had worsened to the point where surgery was necessary. His statistics over the past two seasons back that up, but he expects to have a much stronger campaign this coming season now that his hip is healthy.

At the end of April, Korpisalo was still using one crutch to support his healing hip but expected to be rid of it soon. He’s off the crutches now and got a positive report from his surgeon in New York last week.

“Hip is doing well,” Korpisalo said. “It’s feeling much better. … I think it’s gonna be ready for the training camp. At least, how it feels right now, it’s on the schedule as we thought. Feeling good right now. Still a lot of work ahead, but in a good spot right now.”


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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Blue Jackets sign goalie Joonas Korpisalo to contract extension