Elvis could enter the building in the next couple of weeks.
Merzlikins is reportedly expected to fly to Columbus on Sunday or next Monday and then make his North American debut with the AHL's Cleveland Monsters either March 29 or 30 at Quicken Loans Arena. The Latvian has played in Switzerland's top professional league for the last six years.
Signing the 24-year-old now will burn his entry-level deal and make him a restricted free agent on July 1, Portzline adds.
Merzlikins, a third-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2014, is widely viewed as Columbus' goalie of the future. With Sergei Bobrovsky set to become an unrestricted free agent, that future could arrive as early as next season.
The 6-foot-3 Merzlikins has posted a save percentage of .920 or better in four of his six seasons with HC Lugano in the National League. Merzlikins has also shined on the international stage, registering a 1.50 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage in six games for Latvia at the 2018 World Championship.