2008-09: Jon Merrill played for the US NTDP Under-17 squad. In 26 games vs. NAHL competition, Merrill scored 2 goals and added 2 assists for 4 points. In 19 games vs. other competition, Merrill netted 1 goal and added 4 assists for 5 points. Merrill was a part of Team USA’s gold medal-winning Under-18 World Junior Championships squad.
2009-10: Played for the US NTDP Under-18 team. In 22 games vs. USHL competition, Merrill scored 1 goal and added 8 assists for 9 points. Merrill won another gold medal with Team USA at this year’s Under-18 World Junior Championships.
2010-11: Merrill played top pair minutes and appeared in 42 of 44 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan. Merrill scored 7 goals with 18 assists and was +11 with 16 PMs for the Wolverines, who won the CCHA regular season title and advanced to the Frozen Four Championship game by shutting out high-powered North Dakota, 2-0, in the semifinals. Michigan lost to Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in overtime in the championship game.
2011-12: Merrill did not play in his first game until the 2012 World Junior Championships – missing the first two months of his sophomore season with a team-imposed suspension. Representing the USA for the second time after winning a bronze medal in 2011, he was plus-five and had 4 assists with 6 penalty minutes in six games. The USA finishing seventh. Merrill skated in 19 games for Michigan after re-joining Michigan – primarily partnered with Sharks’ prospect Lee Moffie. He was plus-11 with 2 goals 9 assists and 15 penalty minutes. Michigan finished second in the CCHA and earned an NCAA at-large bid after reaching the conference championship game. The Wolverines were 13-5-1 with Merrill in the lineup.
2012-13: Merrill signed a three-year entry-level contract with New Jersey and made his pro hockey debut with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Albany in March following his junior year at Michigan. In 12 AHL games he scored 1 goal with 7 assists and was -8 with 4 penalty minutes. Albany missed the AHL playoffs after finishing fourth in the Northeast Division. Merrill missed the first half of the season due to a cracked vertebrae and played his first game for Michigan in January. He was in the middle of things for the eighth-place Wolverines’ late season nine-game unbeaten streak that ended in the CCHA conference championship game. In 21 games he scored 2 goals (both on the power play) and had 9 assists; finishing +3 with 14 penalty minutes.
Merrill is a solid two-way defender with outstanding poise and hockey smarts. He skates very well, shows no fear in rushing the puck up the ice and can quarterback a power play with his great distribution skills and shot. Since he has not played a full season of hockey since his freshman campaign at Michigan, he is still a little raw. Still, he has risen to the occasion and makes his team better whenever he’s on the ice.
The Devils are looking for one of their up-and-coming defensemen to make the jump to the NHL. Merrill is a front runner for the vacancy when training camp opens. From all accounts, he really matured in his junior season at Michigan.