With only five regular defensman signed (Salvador, Volchencov, Greene and Larsson) the question remains. Who gets the last
spot? Marek Zidlicky remains unsigned even though Lou has said he wants to work on a deal. Lou also said that a spot will be available for a younger prospect to take the moment as an everyday NHL defenseman. By name Lou mentioned, Eric Gelinas, Alexander Urbom, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson.
Outside of Urbom, all of the prospects have a more offensive game to them, despite Merrill and Severson being outstanding two-way defensive prospects. So far the early edge would go to Eric Gelinas who has been patiently waiting in the AHL and putting up some nice numbers with the big shot he posses.
Jon Merrill recently turned pro after his junior season at the University of Michigan, a place were he has had a few off ice problems and injuries. He is considered by hockeysfuture.com to be the Devils’ top prospect.
Besides Merrill, a guy that I am real excited about is Damon Severson, who was recently invited to Canada’s world junior tryout camp. Severson took a huge step forward this season in the WHL by putting up 52 points in 71 games. Numbers very similar to 4th overall pick Seth Jones. Severson also played two games in Albany, getting two assists.
Alexander Urbom has been a guy who seemingly looks ready but can never put it together. He has had some NHL time and even scored in the NHL, but never earned a spot. His time up on the depth chart could be done if he doesn’t impress in camp this summer with Merrill, Gelinas, Severson, and Scarlett fast on the way.
My pick for the last defenseman spot is Eric Gelinas. He got a cup of coffee with the big club last season and has improved every year in the AHL since turning pro. His offensive game could be very similar to Marek Zidlicky’s if he continues his development. While down the road I think Merrill and Severson will be better, they still need time to adapt to the pro game, something that Gelinas has done.