Merkley Re-Signs

The Devils put out a press release this morning saying that Nick Merkley has re-signed with the club. His contract is a two-way deal, worth $874,125 at the NHL-level and $70,000 at the AHL-level.

According to the press release and Devils Executive Vice President/General Manager Tom Fitzgerald, Merkley will rejoin the team “prior to the start of 2020-21 training camp.” He is currently playing for Assat in Liiga. He currently has two goals and two assists (four points) over seven games in the Finnish league.

Merkley stands 5-feet, 10-inches and is 195-pounds. He was acquired by the Devils in the trade that sent Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. The right-shooting forward “made his Devils debut on February 14, 2020 against Carolina where he recorded his first career NHL point with an assist.” He scored one goal in four more games with the Devils last season.

In the American Hockey League, with the Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona’s affiliate) and Binghamton, he netted a total of 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points over 26 games with Tucson and 28 with the B-Devils. In the AHL all-time, he has 39 goals, 69 assists totaling 108 points over 137 games. He was a 2017-18 AHL All-Star according to the press release.

The 23-year-old Calgary-native was selected 30th overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Coyotes. Prior to that, he was a teammate of Devils prospect Nolan Foote and Damon Severson with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. From 2012 to 2017, he had 85 goals, 174 assists, totaling 259 points, leading the Rockets in scoring in 2014-15 according to the presser. He had 20 goals and 70 assists for 90 points that season over 72 games.

Devils to Part Ways with Schneider

According to Amanda Stein this morning on the “Inside the Devils Blog” on NewJerseyDevils.com, the Cory Schneider era in New Jersey is about to come to an end.

Stein reports that the Devils have placed Schneider on waivers and, should he go unclaimed, will buy out the last two years of his contract.

The veteran, who has battled injuries as he has gotten older, was put on waivers today at noon. Each team will then get a chance to claim him. Should the other 30 teams pass, his contract will be bought out.

Schneider came to the Devils as a potential heir to an aging Martin Brodeur. He was acquired at the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the Devils’ first round pick in that Draft. Vancouver took Bo Horvat with that selection.

Over the ensuing seven years as a Devil, Schneider played in 311 games going 115-133-50 over that stretch, Stein points out that he started 302 of those 311 games. She also notes that those 115 wins place him second to Brodeur on the Devils’ all-time goalie wins list.

For comparison, Marty has 688, although that does not speak to Schneider’s lack of talent in any way, obviously. Just Marty’s once-in-a-lifetime greatness and Cory’s unluckiness. He played at a time when the Devils were certainly in a down-swing – even taking a backseat in their only playoff appearance during his tenure to Keith Kinkaid – and not icing very good teams.

Schneider, Stein mentioned, had his best season in 2015-16. That year, “he recorded a career-high 27 wins in 58 games played. That same year, he represented the New Jersey Devils at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville.”

Besides wins, which Schneider realistically had no chance of coming close to Marty in, where does he rank in franchise history?

Well, Stein wrote that he is second in saves made in franchise history with 8,023 (second again, she points out, to Brodeur – who made 28,776) and third in team history with a 2.50 all-time goals against average. Here he trails Johan Hedberg (2.42) who is second and, once again, Brodeur, who is first with a 2.24 GAA. He is also second in shutouts (17) and minutes played (17,872).

Where he does rank first in Devils history is with his save percentage of .915. A fitting place in the record books for a guy who played behind some terrible, porous defenses.

So, now that the Devils have closed the book on Cory and decided to move forward with Mackenzie Blackwood and their other prospects (goaltender Nico Daws was taken in the Draft yesterday), what does this mean for him? He will likely land somewhere as a backup, which is kind of heart wrenching for those who remember his time in Vancouver where he and Roberto Luongo never really got named the top goalie before they were both traded, or wash out of the NHL completely through retirement.

I, personally, would love to see him coach. He always seemed to have an even-keel personality no matter how frustrating things might get for him or the team. He certainly cares about people, as his Cory’s Keepers program for kids could attest to. If he wants to, I could certainly see him get a job as a goaltending coach down the line.

But until then, farewell Cory. You never really had a fair shake here and it was tough to see your prime wasted on mediocre, at best, teams and to injuries. Good luck as you continue your hockey journey.