Devils Lose Merrill to Golden Knights

The NHL is currently holding the expansion draft in conjunction with their annual awards show at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights are to choose one player from each of the established NHL franchises.

It did not take long for the team to make their selection from the New Jersey Devils. Defenseman Jon Merrill was chosen in the first wave of selections by Vegas and will be taking his talents to Sin City next fall.
The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-born player who grew up in Michigan was chosen by the Devils 38th overall in the 2nd round ofthe 2010 NHL Entry Draft from the University of Michigan.

In parts of four seasons with the Devils, totalling 216 games, Merrill has six goals and 20 assists for 36 points. He is a career minus-41 plus/minus and averages about 18:58 of ice time (all stats from

The 25-year-old, 6-foot, 3-inch, 205-pound blueliner is the third d-man taken in the first wave by the Golden Knights, along with Luca Sbisa of Vancouver and Brayden McNabb of Los Angeles.

Dan Rosen of offered his analysis of Merrill on the NHL’s official website, saying that while he and Sbisa are big and can “block shots and play sound defensively,” both are “inconsistent.” He does not see Merrill “as a top-pair or even middle-pair” defenseman. He does concede that Vegas might have to use him as such, however.

He also proposes that Sbisa and Merrill, who he clearly feels are the weakest players taken by the Golden Knights so far, “are both signed for one more season, so they could be trade bait for Vegas around the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline.” Rosen goes on to say that “that might be their best value, in fact.” Ouch.

For the Devils, Merrill was probably one of the better players avaiable so it is pretty obvious why Vegas would take him. Losing someone like Beau Bennett would have been a little bit more of a hit, so the Devils will recover.

In other Devils news, the team announced their 2017-18 home opener will occur on Saturday, October 7, 2017 against the Colorado Avalanche at 7 PM. The rest of their schedule will be unveiled along with the other 30 team schedules on Thursday at 3 PM on the NHL Network.

Devils Reveal Protected Players for Expansion Draft

The Devils today, along with the other 30 established NHL teams, made their list of protected players available for the upcoming expansion draft, where the Vegas Golden Knights will take one player from each team in trying to build up their roster.

The Devils protected forwards Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. They protected defensemen Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller and Damon Severson as well as goaltender Cory Schneider.

Vegas must choose one player from the Devils and those players available to them are: forwards Beau Bennett, Michael Cammalleri, Carter Camper, Luke Gazdic, Shane Harper, Jacob Josefson, Ivan Khomutov, Stefan Noesen, Marc Savard, Devante Smith-Pelly, Petr Straka, Mattias Tedenby, Ben Thomson and David Wohlberg. Devils defensemen available to the Golden Knights are: Seth Helgeson, Viktor Loov, Ben Lovejoy, Andrew MacWilliam, Jon Merrill, Dalton Prout, Karl Stollery and Alexander Urbom. Goalies left unprotected are Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood.

According to, Vegas must choose 30 players (one from each team) and they must consist of a minimum of 14 forwards, nine d-men and three goalies. says that they have until 10 AM on Wednesday (June 21) to submit their selections.

The criteria for who the Devils kept protected was that they could either keep seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight total skaters and one goalie. The Devils obviously went with protecting eight skaters and a goalie. According to, “all players with continuing and effective no-movement clauses had to be protected. All first- and second-year professionals are exempt from selection, as are unsigned draft choices.” (This would exempt players like Pavel Zacha and Mikey McLeod – making that decision easier for the Devils to deal with.)

The expansion draft takes place in conjunction with the NHL Awards on June 21 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It airs on NBCSN at 8 PM.

Obviously, the team will take less of a hit in terms of losing players than in other expansion years when multiple teams joined the league. With only Vegas coming in, the team will only be losing one player for nothing in the expansion draft.