New Jersey Devils: 5 Players In Jeopardy In Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

Michael McLeod #20 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Michael McLeod #20 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils right wing Nicholas Merkley (39): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nick Merkley

Nick Merkley was an extra piece in the Taylor Hall trade. He was probably the fourth most important piece outside of the two draft picks and Kevin Bahl. However, he’s made the most immediate impact on the NHL club.

He hasn’t been perfect by any means this season, but there are inklings of a contributor in there. Nobody is going to go home about his nine points in 23 games, but he plays with an edge and he seems to know where to go. Outside of Hischier, Merkley has one of the worst differences between his CorsiFor% and his GoalsFor%. His line gets more than 50% of the chances while they are on the ice, but they give up 60% of the goals.

This is Merkley’s first NHL look, so the Devils will take the numbers with a grain of salt. He’s only 23 years old, and he’s also a former 1st-round pick. The fans have grown to like Merkley, probably because of how he was treated immediately after the Hall trade. It’s clear the Devils won that trade, and now the team’s fanbase is getting behind everyone involved (which is a much different thought process than they had right after the trade was made).

Merkley could have a long-term future in New Jersey, but he could also get eclipsed on the roster next season. If Alexander Holtz, Graeme Clarke, Dawson Mercer, and Nolan Foote all fight their way onto the roster next year, wouldn’t Merkley be the easiest odd-man-out on this team? The Devils will almost certainly make Merkley available, and the player might be very intriguing for GM Ron Francis.