Previewing the 2010 NHL Draft: Jon Merrill

Name: Jonathan Merrill

Position: Defense

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 198 lbs

Age: 18

Home Country: USA

Playing For: US NTDP 18

Scouting Reports After the Jump.......

Western College Hockey Blog:

Jon Merrill first made headlines--and not just headlines in the hockey world, but the entire sports world--in October of 2006, when he committed to play college hockey for the University of Michigan. He was just 14 years, 8 months old at the time he committed, making him the youngest hockey player to ever make a verbal NCAA commitment.

Merrill, a Brighton, Michigan native, has been lucky enough to stay close to home for his hockey career. He grew up playing in the famous Little Caesar's AAA organization, and from there, moved down the road to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play for the US National Development Program. Next season, he'll move across town to play for the University of Michigan, also in Ann Arbor.

Though Merrill committed to college at a young age, he's not exactly a childhood prodigy blessed with amazing natural talents. He certainly has excellent size, helped by the fact that he's tenacious in the weight room, but he doesn't possess elite-level skating, puck handling, or shooting. Where Merrill really excels is in his understanding of the game. He's very good at always knowing where to be on the ice. He's very responsible defensively, and opportunistic offensively when the right situation arises.

Merrill's offensive game is still developing, but most likely, he projects out to a very solid shutdown defensive defenseman at the pro level. He's not likely to be a flashy player, but he should be big enough, fast enough, and smart enough to keep up with any team's top line.

Strengths: Hockey IQ, Strength, Work Ethic

Needs to Improve: Shooting ability, quickness

Hockey's Future:

2009-10: Played for the US NTDP Under-18 team.  In 22 games vs. USHL competition, Merrill scored 1 goal and added 8 assists for 9 points.  Merrill won another gold medal with Team USA at this year's Under-18 World Junior Championships.

Talent Analysis

Two-way defender. Clears the crease.