The contract doesn't begin until the 2013-14 season, which means Merrill cannot play in the NHL this year. Instead, Merrill also signed an amateur tryout contract with the Albany Devils and will join them immediately.
The 21-year old had two goals and 11 points in 21 games with Michigan this season after missing time with a fractured vertebrae in his neck, which he suffered during an exhibition game in October.
Merrill is a solidly built two-way defender with outstanding poise and hockey smarts. He skates well in all directions, shows no fear in rushing the puck up the ice and can quarterback a power play with his great distribution skills and shot. While he’s still a little raw defensively, Merrill has gradually learned how to use his sizable frame to his advantage in his time at the University of Michigan. That being said, he mostly relies on his sound positioning and keen stick-work while defending.Merrill will likely enter camp with a legitimate shot to make the Devils next season. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Devils wanted him to get some extra seasoning, especially since the Devils already have six defensemen under contract next season (according to Cap Geek). Of those defensemen, Anton Volchenkov is set to earn $4.25 million through 2015-16 and has a no-trade clause, while Henrik Tallinder is on the books for one more year after this one at $3.37 million. The rest are Bryce Salvador, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene and Mark Fayne. Could the Devils use Merrill as an extra defenseman? Perhaps. He would come cheap ($925K) and the Devils could use him the way they used Adam Larsson in his rookie year. It's all hypothetical at this point. The most important thing is Merrill gets to learn the Devils' system and get some legitimate experience playing against pro talent.