by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)
THW’s NHL Draft War Room Rankings (E-Mac): #83 (June 2014)
- Hashtag: #TheLatvianElvis
- Team: #30, HC Lugano, NLA
- Position: Goalie
- Shoots: Left
- Height: 6’3
- Weight: 187 lb.
- Born: Riga, Latvia, 13-Apr-94
- Twitter: @merzly30
[Your quintessential free draft resource: 2014 NHL Draft Guide: The Next Ones]
- 96 – NHL Combined, Final, Apr-14
— Alessandro Zacchetti (@Le_Zac1982) December 8, 2013
— Marusca Rezzonico (@brusca73) January 12, 2014
If u thought Gudlevskis was good, you haven't seen Elvis Merzlikins, 19, playing for Swiss HC Lugano. Pencil him in for Pyeongchang2018.
— Szymon Szemberg (@Sz1909_Szemberg) February 19, 2014
— Lassi Laakso (@Lassi_Laakso) March 6, 2014
— Elvis Merzlikins (@Merzly30) April 11, 2014
[The 2014 NHL Draft War Room: Prospect Profile Index Contains All the Prospects Profiled in This Series]
- Interview 1: HockeyInWorld.Wordpress.com– In Latvian – Use Google translate
- Interview 2: Teletcino– In Italian (Video)
- Interview 3: Sporta Studija– In Latvian (Video)
- Quote 1:USAToday – Kyle Woodlief, “One netminder we think was overlooked is Elvis Merzlikins, a smooth ’94-born Latvian who, as a third year draft-eligible, is a classic case of a late bloomer.Merzlikins came out of nowhere with his long, athletic frame (6-3. 187), and plays a very mature, advanced game. In fact, he was so advanced that as a teenager this year he occasionally dominated against men playing for Lugano’s senior team in the top Swiss league.”
- Quote 2:Leonid Tambijevs, Head Coach of Team Latvia, on beating Team Switzerland on Elvis’ birthday, “We played like one team and we were supported by (an) amazing goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins who gives himself the birthday gift by this win. Above that it’s the first time when some Latvian team has beaten Switzerland at world championship. Next time, we are going to clash with Team Sweden, favorite of the whole championship but our preparation will be equally thorough like it was on Team Switzerland.”
- Quote 3: HockeyFans.ch– Maurizio Urech, “Certainly, the shooting star of the Bianconeri. The native Latvian was thrown into the deep and showed us (what he was made of) from the first play to when he decided his first game on a penalty shot. Also, in his first playoff game (on Thursday), he showed a class performance. If he continues to work hard and keep both feet on the ground, he can be one of the best goalies in the league.” – with assistance from Google translate
From the War Room
Eldon MacDonald, THW: A few words on Elvis Merzlikins:
- The Latvian Elvis – “Suspicious Minds” may beg to differ but I believe that the next (or is it the first?) great Latvian goalie will not be the Latvian star from the 2014 Olympics, Kristers Gudlevskis, but it will be Elvis Merzlikins, the Latvian teenager who took the NLA (top Swiss professional league) by storm this year (22GP – 2.13 – .924).
- Qualities – Elvis, an overager at 20, displays a confident mature game. He already plays a North American style game, coming out and challenging the shooters, deadening the puck to prevent rebounds. However, he also will flash his athleticism and agility to prevent the puck from entering the net. Sometimes there is a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On.” What stands out for me, however, is his play with the puck; he already handles the puck better than a lot of NHL defensemen. Like the original Elvis (Elvis Presley), Elvis can be a real showman at times and he is a real individual. He can always say, “I Did It My Way”.
- Dream – While Elvis loves the team and the city of Lugano, Elvis would say, “If I Can Dream, I would love to go to “America” and the NHL.” To “Follow That Dream” and improve his chances of making his dream come true, Elvis decided to use English as his training language this year.
- Awards and Achievements
- 2013-14 NLA Rookie of the Year
- 2011 U18 Division 1 Group A – Best goaltender
- Draft Placement – This is the first post Kristers Gudlevskis (after his electrifying Olympic performance) draft. Consequently, Latvian goalies (previously forgotten or just remembered as an afterthought) have gone to where NHL teams can now say they are “Always On My Mind”. The prospects no longer have to yell out, “Do You Know Who I Am?” Normally, an overager from Latvia would either not get drafted or go in the late rounds. This year is likely to be different. “I Just Can’t Help Believing” that Elvis will be taken in the third. However, given his talent and results and the “Burning Love” for Latvian goalies this year, who knows how high Elvis could go?
- Video 1: DusanSidorGoaltending– Highlights
- Video 2: DusanSidorGoaltending – Workout Agility On Ice
- Video 3: DusanSidorGoaltending– Highlights – 2012-13 season
- Video 4: Michele Cane– How to Celebrate properly
- Video 5: Jean-Claude Dus– Watch closely
- Video 6: Ina Bordasova– Amazing Jump
Chris is THW’s senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for “The Next Ones” Prospect Profile series, exclusive rankings, mock drafts, as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphYQ on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com