After free agency kicked off in a quieter move, the Detroit Red Wings and defenseman Jon Merrill agreed to a one-year, $925,000 contract.
The Detroit Red Wings may have been tied to big-name defensemen like Torey Krug or Alex Pietrangelo to kick off free agency, but this is not who they signed. The organization would opt to stay with the cost-effective options for their signings, adding more “rental” potential at a bargain.
The one-year, $925,000 contract with the Red Wings adds Jonathon (Jon) Merrill to the mix of defenseman competing for roles in the 2020-21 defense pairings. Not to mention that Merrill will return to Michigan after growing up in Grand Blanc and playing for the University of Michigan.
As a college player, Merrill would play for the Michigan Wolverines before being selected in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, where he got his start in the NHL.
He would spend four seasons with the Devils organization, before being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in their expansion draft when they entered the league. Merrill would then spend the next three seasons in Vegas.
In 2019-20, Merrill played in 49 games where he notched just two goals and five assists for seven points; however, it was a plus-nine on the season. In fact, Merrill has been a plus-seven or better in each of these seasons with the Golden Knights organization.
Merill may not find his way onto the scoresheet, but he contributes on the ice and does provide some upside for the Red Wings. Merrill had a 52.6 Corsi For percentage (CF%) in 2019-20, which was 1.4% lower than the team average, but he still has shown he can contribute and be helpful.
He will likely slot in as a second or third pairing guy, more than likely being an anchor on the third line. He averaged 18:09 for ice time with Vegas in his 49 games during 2019-20, and he could likely see similar numbers, maybe a bit elevated if he can be effective.
After the opportunity presented itself for Merrill, he felt it was best to come home to Michigan to play for the Red Wings. Being a kid from Grand Blanc and having played his college hockey for the Wolverines, Merrill now gets that chance.
The Red Wings will still need to go through the rest of this offseason and address their need for goaltending. But the two main signings so far have been Bobby Ryan’s one-year deal as a reclamation project and then Merrill’s return to Michigan.
While Yzerman was expected to pitch the “come on home to Michigan” idea to a defenseman this offseason, most expected Torey Krug. Still, it ended up being Jon Merrill, who joins the organization.