3 Under-the-Radar Defensemen New Jersey Devils Should Target

The New Jersey Devils are reportedly looking hard at the defenseman trade market prior to the December roster freeze. Who are some names they could target that haven't been spoken about?

Seattle Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson (6) and New Jersey
Seattle Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson (6) and New Jersey / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
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Jon Merrill
Minnesota Wild

We try really hard not to fall into the trope of bringing back New Jersey natives and ex-Devils, but this one makes sense. The Devils lost Jon Merrill in the 2018 Expansion Draft when he went to the Vegas Golden Knights. He was part of a defensive prospect core that included Steve Santini, Eric Gelinas, Alexander Urbom, and Damon Severson. Many of them didn't work out, but Severson and Merrill did (especially as second-round draft picks).

Merrill does a lot of what the Devils need right now. He blocks shots, which is something the Devils desperately need. They lost a ton of those blocked shots when Graves signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Merrill has 19 shots this season in a limited role. He would get more penalty kill minutes on the Devils (he only has one blocked shots on the PK this season).

This would be a really good fit. Merrill has another year left on his deal at just $1.2 million. He could easily replace Brendan Smith next season. Merrill won't cost a lot to acquire even with the simple contract.

The Minnesota Wild want to claw its way back into contention, but this has started so terribly. They've played much better since hiring John Hynes, but it's still a steep hill to climb. If they can get assets for Merrill, they might just take it.

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