Feb 7, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Jon Merrill (34) celebrates with defenseman Mark Fayne (7) after scoring his first NHL career and the game winning goal during overtime at Prudential Center. The Devils won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey's Future Lists Top 20 New Jersey Devils Prospects for the Fall

Hockey’s Future has continued their previews for the beginning of the NHL season which starts in a little over a month from now. As with every team, they have selected the Top 20 New Jersey Devils Prospects for this Fall list.

Eric Gelinas and Keith Kinkaid graduated from prospect status, and now Jon Merrill leads the group as the biggest prospect on the team.

Here is what they had to say about him:

1. (1) Jon Merrill, D, 7.5B
Drafted 2nd Round, 38th overall, 2010

Following his return from injury last winter, Merrill showed his worth on the Devils blue line. Throughout the second half of the season, the rookie played very well, earning more responsibility, which included additional ice time on special teams. In certain games, he was their best defenseman. In 52 games, he scored two goals and nine assists to go along with a minus-three rating.

Merrill joins Gelinas and Adam Larsson as the three young blueliners expected to play in New Jersey. The coaching staff was high on Merrill’s smart play away from the puck, but only saw flashes of his offensive side from his Wolverine days.

Coming in at number two was Damon Severson. Damon will look to surprise everyone and get a chunk of ice time with the New Jersey team this upcoming season.

Here is their analysis of Severson:

2. (2) Damon Severson, D, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 60th overall, 2012

While Merrill, Gelinas, and Larsson are likely to start the year in the NHL, Severson remains the dark horse that could steal a spot at training camp. It is more likely he begins the year in Albany, but it would not shock anyone if he is one of the first call-ups if injuries occur on the back-end. Still, the team has high hopes that Severson is going to be in New Jersey sooner than later.

The former Kelowna star wrapped up his junior career with another strong year. In 64 games, he added 15 goals and 46 assists along with a plus-47 rating. He also added 18 points in 14 postseason games for the Rockets. The offensive-minded defensemen brings vaunted firepower and can quickly start the rush with his skating. Look for him to be amongst Albany’s top-four blueliners.

Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau, and Steve Santini rounded out the Top 5. To see the remainder of the list, check out the full article.

If I were to do a Top 5 Prospects list, it would probably look a lot like this. These 5 guys are the immediate future for the team and are the guys that the Devils are putting a lot of faith into in the coming years.

Stay tuned to Pucks and Pitchforks for more build up to the 2014-15 NHL season.

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Tags: Damon Severson Jon Merrill New Jersey Devils Reid Boucher Stefan Matteau Steve Santini

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