NHL Notes: Merzlikins going for Vezina; Jesperi Kotkaniemi on new beginning; and Seguin getting healthy

Elvis Merzlikins is dedicating this season to Matiss Kivlenieks who lost his life tragically in a 4th of July accident.

Speaking at a private memorial service in Arlington, Ohio, Merzlikins said his teammate’s actions saved him and his pregnant wife from the errant fireworks blast.

“He saved not just many lives, but when it happened, I was standing 20, 30 feet back of him and I was hugging my wife,” Merzlikins said, per ESPN. “He saved my son, he saved my wife, and he saved me.”

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Blue Jackets: Merzlikins going for Vezina

The 27 year-old net-minder was 8-12-5 with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage. In 61 NHL games, Merzlikins numbers are excellent as he sports a 2.54 GAA and a .920 SV% to go with a 21-21-13 record. He has 7 career shutouts as well.

“I don’t want to make any promises, but I can tell you … my plan is to win a Vezina Trophy,” Merzlikins told The Athletic in comments published Tuesday. “I’m gonna win a … Vezina for him. We can’t make promises because this is hockey and we don’t know how the season can go, but this is my goal. I believe I’m going to reach it.”


Hurricanes: Jesperi Kotkaniemi on going to Carolina

Kotkaniemi, 21, had five goals and 15 assists in 56 games last season. In three NHL seasons, all with Montreal, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 has scored 22 goals and added 40 assists in 171 games.

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Jun 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) during the warm up session before the game four against Vegas Golden Knights of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

“The Canadiens will not match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi,” the Habs said in a statement. “Montreal will receive Carolina’s 1st- and 3rd-round 2022 Draft picks as compensation.”

Now the Canes new forward is excited about lies ahead.

“I was just really excited when I saw the offer sheet the first time,” Kotkaniemi said Sunday. “I thought how it would be over there. I had a good talk with [Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon] and Carolina, so I was just really excited. … I mean, like I said, Carolina is a great team, they’ll be a [Stanley Cup] contender next year. Everyone wants to be part of a team like that, so it was a good decision from our side.”


Stars: Tyler Seguin getting healthy

Tyler Seguin joined the team late last season after having surgery to repair his hip.

Dallas fought back from a 4-2 deficit in the third period to score twice with Seguin making his season debut last May. He notched the game-tying foal falling down in front of the net.

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May 3, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) celebrates his goal scored on Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight (30) during the third period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars didn’t make the playoffs but this season could be different with a healthy Seguin.

“I can confidently say that I can do pretty much 98 percent of the things in the gym now, which is really exciting,” the forward told The Athletic in comments published Tuesday. “It has taken a long time to get here. There are certain things like sprinting that have been a little bothersome but, on the ice, I feel pretty much back to normal, which is exciting for me.”


Seguin, 29, played just 3 games last season and recorded 2 goals. For his career, he’s amassed 637 points in 744 regular season games.