GM Don Waddell brutally buries his own goaltender.
James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports  

GM Don Waddell brutally buries his own goaltender.

General manager Don Waddell makes some very harsh comments about his own player.

Jonathan Larivee

It is not every day you hear a general manager in the National Hockey League speak this way about a player, it is even more rare to hear an NHL general manager speak this way of a player on the record, and it is rarest of all to hear an NHL general manager speak this way on the record about one of his very own players.

This week, newly appointed Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Don Waddell made some rather harsh comments about Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins during an interview with Blue Jackets insider Aaron Portzline. Waddell was asked about the future of the Blue Jackets number one netminder when he expressed that he was handcuffed by the combination of Merzlikins' poor play as well as Merzlikins' current contract.

"Let’s be honest, nobody is going to trade for that contract," said Waddell as per Portzline. "Nobody."

Those aren't the kind of words you expect to hear from an NHL GM about his own goaltender and especially not an NHL GM who has just recently been hired for the job, but Waddell isn't necessarily wrong either.

The contract that Waddell is referring to was given to Merzlikins by former Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen in the summer of 2021, a 5 year deal that carries an average annual value and salary cap hit of $5.4 million per season. Merzlikins will be entering the third year of that deal come the 2024-25 NHL regular season and is coming off of a campaign that saw him record a 3.45 goals against average and a .897 save percentage over the course of 41 games.

The Blue Jackets general manager would go on to add that a buyout is also out of the question, indicating that he has no interest in a situation that would leave him on the hook for Merzlikins' contract until the end of 2029-2030 NHL regular season. 

It would seem that this may be Waddell attempting to light a fire under his goaltender, one that could potentially put him in a better position to find a new home for Merzlikins should he play up to the value of his contract this coming season.